Cancer prevention measures urgently needed to stop a global disease crisis

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Breast cancer x-ray

The global cancer burden is growing at an alarming pace with experts calling for the urgent implementation of efficient prevention strategies to curb the disease.

The latest edition of the World Cancer report published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) , shows that in 2012, the number of new cancer cases rose to 14 million, and will continue to rise to reach 22 million cases annually within the next two decades.

The most common cancers diagnosed were those of the lung 1.8 million, breast cancer 1.7 million, and stomach cancer 1.4 million.

The report says developing countries are disproportionately affected by the increasing numbers of cancers with more than 60 per cent of the cancer cases occurring in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America.

Dr Bernard Stewart who is one of the editors of the report says treatment alone was no longer effective in the battle against cancer.

“What else can be done is prevention at two levels what is called primary prevention which is reducing contact with recognised carcinogens whether they are related to personal behaviour such as tobacco smoking and alcohol, or the minority of cancers that are caused by environmental exposure over which people have no control over such as exposure in the work place or exposure to pollution. All these things both the personal situation and the pollution and work place situation can be addressed by regulation. It is not just a matter of personal choices. It's a matter of people being supported in their personal choices by appropriate restrictions on the pricing, the availability and the advertising of these various products that are associated with an increase in the global burden of cancer.”

He says governments must show political commitment to progressively scale up the implementation of high-quality screening and early cancer detection programmes, adding that they are an investment rather than a cost.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration 2:09″

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January 2018
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