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J Natl Cancer Inst. 2015 Sep 30;107(12):djv273. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djv273. Print 2015 Dec.

Long-term Realism and Cost-effectiveness: Primary Prevention in Combatting Cancer and Associated Inequalities Worldwide.

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International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France (FB, DF); American Cancer Society, Atlanta, GA (AJ, LAT); HuGeF Foundation, Torino, Italy and MRC-PHE Center for Environment and Health, School of Public Health, Imperial College London, London, UK (PV).


The global figure of 14 million new cancer cases in 2012 is projected to rise to almost 22 million by 2030, with the burden in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) shifting from 59% to 65% of all cancer cases worldwide over this time. While the overheads of cancer care are set to rapidly increase in all countries worldwide irrespective of income, the limited resources to treat and manage the growing number of cancer patients in LMICs threaten national economic development. Current data collated in the recent second edition of The Cancer Atlas by the American Cancer Society and International Agency for Research on Cancer show that a substantial proportion of cancers are preventable and that prevention is cost-effective. Therefore, cancer control strategies within countries must prioritize primary and secondary prevention, alongside cancer management and palliative care and integrate these measures into existing health care plans. There are many examples of the effectiveness of prevention in terms of declining cancer rates and major risk factors, including an 80% decrease in liver cancer incidence rates among children and young adults following universal infant hepatitis B vaccination in Taiwan and a 46% reduction in smoking prevalence in Brazil after the implementation of a more aggressive tobacco control program beginning in 1989. Prevention can bring rich dividends in net savings but actions must be promoted and implemented. The successful approaches to combatting certain infectious diseases provide a model for implementing cancer prevention, particularly in LMICs, via the utilization of existing infrastructures for multiple purposes.

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