BOX 2-1World Health Organization Resolution on Cancer Prevention and Control (Summary)

  1. Cancer is one of the most common causes of morbidity and mortality today, with more than 10 million new cases and more than 6 million deaths each year worldwide . . . by 2020 there will be every year 15 million new cancer cases and 10 million cancer deaths.
  2. . . . There is now sufficient understanding of the causes to prevent at least one third of all cancers worldwide . . . [and] permit the early detection and effective treatment of a further one third of cases. Effective strategies exist for the relief of pain and the provision of palliative care to all cancer patients in need and of support to their families, even in low-resource settings.
  3. . . . Efforts to prevent and control cancer are hampered by the low priority frequently given to the disease by governments and health ministries, excessive reliance and expenditure on treatment, and a considerable imbalance between resources allocated for basic cancer research and those devoted to its prevention and control.
  4. The overall goal of cancer prevention and control is to reduce the incidence and mortality of cancer and to improve the quality of life of cancer patients and their families. A well conceived national cancer control programme is the most effective instrument to . . . achieve this goal.
  5. Prevention frequently offers the most cost-effective long-term strategy for cancer control . . . [and] can also contribute to preventing other chronic diseases that share the same risk factors. It is estimated that around 43 percent of cancer deaths are due to tobacco use, unhealthy diets, alcohol consumption, inactive lifestyles and infection. Of these, tobacco use is the world’s most avoidable cause of cancer.
  6. Infectious agents are responsible for almost 25 percent of cancer deaths in the developing world and 6 percent in industrialized countries. In low-resource settings . . . special measures are needed to combat these infections. For example, in areas endemic for liver cancer, hepatitis B virus immunization, integrated with other vaccination programmes, is the principal preventive measure. Vaccines are being developed and tested in human beings that could prove to be effective in preventing cervical cancer in the near future. . . .
  7. Early detection, which comprises screening of asymptomatic populations and awareness of early signs and symptoms, increases the probability of cure. . . . Awareness of early signs and symptoms is particularly relevant for cancers of the breast, cervix, mouth, larynx, endometrium, colon and rectum, stomach and skin . . . population screening can currently be advocated only for cancers of the breast, cervix, and colon and rectum, in countries where resources are available for wide coverage of the population, appropriate treatment is in place and quality-control standards are implemented . . . studies are under way to evaluate low-cost approaches to screening . . . for low-resource settings.
  8. Treatment aims to cure disease, prolong life, and improve the quality of life. The most effective and efficient treatment is linked to early detection programmes and follows evidence-based standards of care . . . .
  9. Most cancer patients require palliative care . . . [which] involves not only pain relief, but also spiritual and psychosocial support to patients and their families from diagnosis, throughout the course of the disease, to the end of life and bereavement. . . . These services can be provided simply and inexpensively. . . . Nonetheless, access to pain relief and palliative care services is often limited, even in high-resources settings, because of lack of political will, insufficient information and education of the general public, health care providers and patients, and excessive regulation of opioids.
  10. Surveillance and research are crucial for both planning effective and efficient cancer control programmes and monitoring and evaluating their performance. . . . Population-based [cancer] registries provide information on incidence . . . and . . . trends; whereas hospital-based registries provide information regarding diagnosis, stage distribution, treatment methods and survival. . . .
  11. Effective partnerships at national, regional and global levels are essential for sustainable prevention and control of cancer. . . . The [World Health Organization (WHO)] network comprises international organizations, agencies of the United Nations system, government bodies, nongovernmental organizations, and private-sector entities, covering such fields of expertise as medicine, nursing, research, public health and communications.
  12. IARC [International Agency for Research in Cancer] conducts focused research on cancer etiology and prevention. . . . WHO promotes policy development and programme implementation. The recently published WHO/IARC report [World Cancer Report] . . . together with other IARC and WHO monographs, technical reports and scientific publications, provides a sound basis on which to develop effective cancer control strategies.
  13. . . . previous resolutions . . . provide the general framework for addressing cancer prevention and control. Resolution WHA51.18 noted that non-communicable diseases, including cancer, represented a significant and growing burden on public health services; resolution WHA53.17 urged the establishment of comprehensive programmes for the prevention and control of major noncommunicable diseases; resolution WHA55.23 urged the development of a global strategy on diet, physical activity and health; and resolution WHA56.1 adopted the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

SOURCE: World Health Assembly (2005).

From: 2, Cancer Causes and Risk Factors and the Elements of Cancer Control

Cover of Cancer Control Opportunities in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
Cancer Control Opportunities in Low- and Middle-Income Countries.
Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Cancer Control in Low- and Middle-Income Countries; Sloan FA, Gelband H, editors.
Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2007.
Copyright © 2007, National Academy of Sciences.

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