The rising cost of treating and caring for a growing number of cancer patients threatens economic development in low and middle income countries (LMICs), making prevention a key element of health care plans, according to a new commentary.
Authored by researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the American Cancer Society, and Imperial College of London, the commentary says in the absence of the implementation of prevention, LMICs will not have the resources to diagnose and treat all new cancer patients, and the economic burden will soon become unsustainable. The commentary appears in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI).
The number of cancer cases every year worldwide, currently estimated to be more than 14 million, is projected to reach almost 22 million by 2030, with the proportion of newly diagnosed cases in low- and middle-income countries rising from the current 59% to almost 65%.
The chronic nature of cancer and its high cost of treatment mean LMICs can ill afford the diagnostic and therapeutic work-up required by the new wave of cancers linked with westernization that are now becoming evident. "Only rapid acceleration in the implementation of cancer control programs at the national and/or regional levels ... is likely to have a major impact in reducing the projected burden," write the authors.
The editorial points to three examples of effective cancer prevention campaigns in recent years.
The authors also say cancer prevention can be a good investment, writing: "The costs of cancer diagnosis and therapy are extremely high, while prevention leads to net savings."
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