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Semin Oncol. 2018 Jan;45(1-2):12-17. doi: 10.1053/j.seminoncol.2018.04.004. Epub 2018 Apr 30.

Back and forth between cancer treatment and cancer control programs: Insights from the Cuban experience.

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Center of Molecular Immunology, Havana, Cuba. Electronic address:
Cancer Control Section, Cuban Ministry of Health, Havana, Cuba.


Cancer control is a wider concept than oncology, and includes comprehensive actions for prevention, early diagnosis, treatment, services organization, and education, aiming to modify hard indicators such as incidence, mortality rates, and survival at a population scale. Based on these concepts, organized national cancer programs appeared in several countries in the second half of the 20th century. But at the same time, scientific efforts began to modify the landscape of cancer control. Evidence of mortality reductions began to appear, cancer-driving mutations became measurable, many novel drugs were registered, the methodology of clinical trials spread through health systems, targeted drugs and immunotherapy entered into the mainstream of therapeutics, and treatment goals started to shift from cure to chronic control. The implementation and impact of organized interventions for cancer control show variations according to the context of diverse countries, and scientists and health decision makers can learn from studying these diverse experiences. Among the salient features of cancer control in Cuba are the simultaneous development of a primary care network with abundant human resources and a national biotechnology industry with capacity to provide both generic and innovating drugs and diagnostic systems. The program intentionally assumes the goal of accelerating the transformation of advanced cancer into a chronic disease susceptible of long-term control. The implications of this strategy for population interventions and for scientific research are discussed.


Cuba; biotechnology; cancer control; cancer epidemiology; cancer prevention; chronicity

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