The World Health Organization’s prediction that by 2030, 22 million men, women and children will be diagnosed with cancer every year, and 13 million will die from the disease, prompted cancer experts on February 4, 2013, World Cancer Day, to call on governments to halt the dramatic worldwide increase in deaths from cancer using a widely published appeal called Stop Cancer Now!
Governments must deliver on commitments made at the World Health Assembly in May 2012 to cut deaths from cancer by 25% by 2025. The deaths due to cancer are estimated to cost $900 billion annually.
Stop Cancer Now!
The World Oncology Forum (WOF), organized by the European School of Oncology in partnership with The Lancet, is determined to monitor the fight against cancer. WOF members met in October 2012 and called on world leaders to introduce strategies similar to the international action used to counter AIDS in 1993. Cancer is a major cause of death globally, with the rate of new cases expected to double over 25 years.
Meeting the commitment for reducing cancer deaths could save 1.5 million lives worldwide each year. The STOP CANCER NOW! appeal in February 2013 warned that current strategies for controlling cancer are not working. This appeal appeared in the International Herald Tribune, Le Monde, El País, La Repubblica and Neue Zürcher Zeitung, along with Articles in The Lancet and Cancerworld magazine.
Cancer Community Alarmed at Escalating Crisis
Cancer specialists question the lack of urgency over cancer deaths, particularly when the AIDS epidemic was forced onto the agenda of the G8 summits. When will tackling cancer receive the same attention? International cancer experts from all over the world met at the WOF in Lugano, Switzerland, in October 2012, which included health journalists and, in particular, Rifat Atun, who directed the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Atun led the discussion on how the international effort against cancer could learn from that experience. Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, was there to ensure that a working strategy with clear objectives was set up to turn the tide on cancer.
Cancer is More Common Worldwide
In the developed world, people are exercising less, eating less healthily, and drinking more alcohol. This results in more cancers, yet the death rates from cancer are falling. Anna Wagstaff at CancerWorld pointed out the work of Dr Richard Peto from the University of Oxford, who described all the reductions in death from cancer as being due to decreases in smoking-related cancers from 1965-2010. The death risk from all other cancers remained the same in 2010. One delegate at the WOF stated that concerted action is needed to deal with tobacco, particularly in India and China.
Cancer: Investing in Prevention
Wagstaff also pointed out the work of Paolo Vineis, Chair of Environmental Epidemiology at Imperial College in London, who examined the evidence for the causes of cancer and how it can be prevented. Most cancers are due to environmental and lifestyle factors interacting with genetic susceptibility. Professor Vineis stated that cancers caused by infectious diseases, such as liver and cervical cancer, offer tremendous opportunities for prevention – and vaccination is intended to control these two cancers. This a key strategy on which the WOF participants agree. The group’s 10-point strategy to counter cancer was published as the Stop Cancer Now! appeal in February 2013. Richard Horton echoed one advocate’s statement that “we need to mobilise the cancer community and engage people into forcing governments to act.”
Cancer Treatments: The Future
The goal of ensuring every cancer patient has access to diagnostics and curative and palliative care is attainable. This must be central to the international strategy for dealing with cancer.
Wagstaff, A. Stop Cancer Now! Cancer World. Accessed February 15, 2013
European School of Oncology. World Oncology Forum. Accessed February 15, 2013
World Health Organization. Cancer Statistics. (2013). Accessed February 15, 2013
European School of Oncology. Stop Cancer Now! Appeal. (2013). Accessed February 15, 2013
European School of Oncology. Stop Cancer Now! (2013). Accessed February 15, 2013