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Cancer Organizations Team Up For Global Cancer Fight

Article date: December 9, 2008

The global cancer burden is growing and could nearly triple by 2030, according to a new report. In an effort to reverse that course, several leading cancer organizations joined forces today, harnessing their collective resources to make global cancer control a priority.

At a press conference held at the American Cancer Society Center in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, leaders from the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the Lance Armstrong Foundation announced they will team up with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the National Cancer Institute of Mexico to focus attention on the growing international cancer problem. The American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the Lance Armstrong Foundation also issued a 6-point call-to-action outlining steps the incoming US administration can take to ease the global cancer burden.

"Cancer is a growing pandemic – and an enemy that no single organization, or nation for that matter, can defeat alone. It will take collaborative efforts such as this unprecedented gathering here today and determined action from our nation's leaders if we are to make real and lasting progress in the worldwide fight against cancer," said John R. Seffrin, PhD, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society.

According to the IARC's World Cancer Report, also unveiled at the briefing, the international cancer burden doubled between 1975 and 2000 and is set to double again by 2020 and nearly triple by 2030. There were around 12 million new cancer cases and 7 million cancer deaths worldwide in 2008, the report says, with 20-26 million new cases and 13-17 million deaths projected for 2030.

"Cancer is responsible for 1 in 8 deaths worldwide. In fact, cancer causes more deaths than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined," said Otis W. Brawley, MD, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society (ACS). "The burden of cancer is shifting from developed countries to developing nations, and with a growing aging population, we must take steps to address this problem now."

While cancer death rates and incidence are dropping in the United States, global cancer incidence rates are expected to climb about 1% each year, the report shows, with larger increases in China, Russia, and India. The increase is driven primarily by tobacco consumption and has been linked to other factors such as high fat diets, decreased physical activity, and increased fast food consumption. The report also highlights the grim cancer care situation in Africa, where pain management and palliative care are limited in many places.

 “The rapid increase in the global cancer burden represents a real challenge for health systems worldwide. However, there is a clear message of hope: although cancer is a devastating disease, it is largely preventable. We know that preventive measures such as tobacco control, reduction of alcohol consumption, increased physical activity, vaccinations for hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV), and screening and awareness could have a great impact on reducing the global cancer burden," said Peter Boyle, Bsc, director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, of the report.

Lance Armstrong, founder and chairman of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, has been actively involved in expanding global outreach for cancer control initiatives. In August, he announced he would return to cycling in order "to raise awareness of the global cancer burden." And in his remarks at today's press conference, he reiterated his passion for the cause.

"I came back to the bike for one reason – to bring greater awareness of this problem around the world," he said.

“Since announcing the launch of our international cancer awareness campaign at the Clinton Global Initiative less than 3 months ago, we are already in discussions with more than 20 nations, NGOs and business leaders to advance this issue. Even in a challenging economy, people realize that with cancer there is progress to be made and prevention measures to be taken," said Armstrong, before the event.

Hala Moddelmog, president and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, spoke about the stigma many cancer patients face around the world, the need for more investment in cancer research, and the expansion of culturally sensitive risk reduction programs.

"Where you live shouldn't determine whether you live," she said.

 Alejandro Mohar Betancourt, MD, ScD, director of the National Cancer Institute of Mexico also took the podium to talk about his country's cancer control programs and the urgent need to work together in a collective battle against cancer.

"We appreciate the opportunity to stand with leading cancer organizations in the United States to make global cancer a priority. In Mexico, we have seen the power of the government working with the NGO's, and look forward to collaborating globally to conquer cancer," he said.

The US cancer groups outlined 6 steps they recommend the new US administration take to ease the global cancer burden:


  • Improve the availability of vaccines shown to prevent cancer-causing infections


  • Commit to a comprehensive tobacco control program in the United States


  • Ratify the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a global health treaty aimed at reducing the health and economic effects of tobacco


  • Support NGO efforts to build advocacy and resources, empower survivors, and reduce suffering


  • Promote culturally-sensitive risk reduction and education campaigns


  • Invest in cancer research and expand access to prevention and early detection measures.


A new documentary film series about the global cancer burden, entitled "Cancer Is…," was also unveiled at the press conference. The series is narrated by former President George H. W. Bush and was produced by French director Cemil Alyanak. Bill Gregory, a throat cancer survivor, also spoke the conference. He shared his struggles with the disease and talked about the role the American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge program played in his recovery.

For more information on the American Cancer Society's global efforts, visit http://www.cancer.org/international


Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff

ACS News Center stories are provided as a source of cancer-related news and are not intended to be used as press releases.

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