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Global Cancer Rates Could Be Reduced By 40% With Prevention Strategies, Report Says

“Forty percent of the 12 million people diagnosed with cancer worldwide each year could avert the killer disease by protecting themselves against infections and changing their lifestyles, experts said on Tuesday,” Reuters reports. Ahead of World Cancer Day on Thursday, officials at the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) released a report that demonstrates how scaling up immunization programs against the infections that cause some cancers and educating the public on prevention strategies could help drive down cancer rates (Kelland, 2/2).

“According to the World Health Organization, cancer is responsible for one out of every eight deaths worldwide – more than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined,” the Associated Press reports (2/3). “The number of global cancer deaths is projected to rise by 45 percent from 2007 to 2030 from 7.9 million to 11.5 million deaths, driven partly by a growing and aging global population,” Reuters continues (2/2).

In the UICC report, “experts said about 21 percent of all cancers are due to infections like the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which causes cervical cancer, and hepatitis infections that cause stomach and liver cancer,” according to the AP. “While the vaccines to prevent these cancers are widely available in Western countries, they are almost nonexistent in the developing world. Nearly 80 percent of the world’s cervical cancer deaths are in poor countries, according to the agency” (2/3).

“The possibilities offered by prevention calls for increased awareness of how some infections can lead to cancer,” Cary Adams, CEO of UICC, said in a press release. “Policy-makers around the world have the opportunity and obligation to use these vaccines to save people’s lives and educate their communities towards lifestyle choices and control measures that reduce their risk of cancer” (1/28).

“There is a universal fear of cancer,” Shin Young-soo, WHO regional director, said, the Times of India reports. “But, with the right frame of mind, and by taking appropriate action, some cancers can be averted or cured.” Shin addressed the need for people to be more educated about cancer, including prevention and detection strategies to treat the disease (2/2).

United Press International examines the focus this World Cancer Day on measures to prevent cancer, including protection against cancer-causing infections. According to the news service, “Infectious agents are responsible for almost 22 percent of cancer deaths in the developing world and 6 percent in industrialized countries” (2/3).

In recognition of World Cancer Day, WHO Regional Director for Africa Luis Gomes Sambo issued a statement on Wednesday, where he “call[ed] on international agencies and donors to increase funding and technical support programmes to prevent and control cancer, as part of their support activities and development aid,” Agencia AngolaPress reports.

“‘The burden of cancer is not just a burden of grief, it also undermines society’s prospect for growth, prosperity and hope,’ Dr. Sambo said, disclosing that in 2008, 667,000 cancer cases and 518,000 cancer-related deaths were recorded in the African region where underlying chronic infections account for 26 percent of risk factors,” according to a WHO press release. “Sambo pledged that WHO would continue to work collaboratively with countries and partners to support member states in strengthening their health workforce and facilities with a view to enhancing their cancer prevention and control efforts,” according to the release (2/4).

A WHO podcast examines the topic of cancer prevention, featuring interviews with Adams of UICC, and Ala Alwan, the WHO’s assistant director-general for noncommunicable diseases and mental health (2/4).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.