More than half of all countries worldwide are struggling to prevent cancer and to provide treatment and chronic care for patients. This information, from a WHO survey for World Cancer Day, means currently these countries don’t have a plan for managing cancer, including early detection, treatment and care.
Cancer is a leading global cause of death, 7.6 million people died from the disease in 2008 and every year around 13 million new cancer cases are diagnosed. Two-thirds of these new cancer cases and deaths occur in developing countries, where incidences of cancer are rising at an alarming rate.
Research indicates a third of all cancer deaths are caused by preventable risks such as tobacco use, obesity, alcohol abuse and infections. If early detection programmes are in place, common cancers such as breast, colorectal and cervical can be successfully cured.
Gap between commitment and action
WHO has identified major gaps in cancer control policies and practices. Even if countries developed cancer plans or policies, many are struggling to move from commitment to action. Only 17% of the African countries and 27% of the low-income countries have cancer control plans with a budget to support implementation.
“Cancer should not be a death sentence anywhere in the world as there are proven ways to prevent and cure many cancers,” says Dr Oleg Chestnov, WHO assistant director-general for noncommunicable diseases and mental health.
“In order to reduce exposure to risk factors leading to cancer and ensure that every person living with cancer gets access to appropriate care and treatment, comprehensive cancer control programmes need to be set up in every country.”