WHO calls for concerted global action to forestall alarming cancer death trends

Regions with traditionally low numbers of cancer deaths could face alarming mortality rates by 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned today, and challenged all sectors to work together to prevent and treat the disease throughout the world.Immediate and concerted action could save two million lives by 2020 and 6.5 million lives by 2040, according to a booklet published by WHO and the International Union Against Cancer (UICC).“With existing knowledge, it is possible to prevent at least one-third of the 10 million cancer cases that occur annually throughout the world,” WHO Director-General Gro Brundtland said. “Where sufficient resources are made available, current knowledge also allows the early detection and effective treatment of a further one-third of those cases. Pain relief and palliative care can improve the quality of life of cancer patients and their families.”The booklet, “Global Action Against Cancer,” presents key facts and figures on the global cancer burden, covering mortality and incidence rates for 12 different regions around the world and tracks the evolution of the global cancer picture in the coming years.Knowledge on cancer prevention and treatment is increasing and yet the number of new cases grows every year, the report states. Some regions – including North and West Africa, South America, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia – could face a sharp increase of over 75 per cent in the number of cancer deaths in 2020 compared to 2000, it forecasts.“Cancer is potentially the most preventable and most curable of the major life-threatening diseases facing humankind. By applying existing knowledge and promoting evidence-based actions in cancer control, we will turn this truth into reality for all people everywhere,” UICC President John Seffrin said.WHO and UICC have challenged international organizations, governments, institutions and individuals from all sectors to work together to reverse the trends by addressing common risk factors, providing recommended treatment, and planning effectively at national and regional levels. They have also called for concerted efforts to improve quality of life for those living with and dying from cancer, their families, and caregivers.

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