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Canada should play a role in addressing the global cancer epidemic

April 10, 2012

Cancer is a growing health concern in low- and middle-income countries, and there is an opportunity for Canada to make a significant contribution to help tackle the disease, states an analysis in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Cancer kills more people than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. The incidence of cancer worldwide is increasing, with a projected rise through 2030 of 82% in low- and lower-income countries and 70% in middle-income countries. Twenty percent of all cancer deaths occur in low-income countries and 50% in middle-income countries. This trend is expected to continue. Approximately one-third of these cancers are preventable, although these countries do not have the resources or experienced medical professionals to deal with these challenges.

Economic losses from cancer are projected at $100 billion in low-income countries and $2.8 trillion in middle-income countries.

"As a high-resource country with the capacity to assist, we have a moral obligation to provide leadership and action," writes Dr. Ophira Ginsburg, Women's College Research Institute, Toronto, with coauthors. "We have the expertise."

Canada can contribute in many ways, from becoming involved in international cancer control groups to forming a global cancer network to provide leadership and coordination, sharing knowledge to design cancer control plans, conducting research in low- and middle-income countries and committing resources.

"To make a substantive impact on global cancer control, we appeal to Canadian cancer organizations to dedicate a small proportion of resources (e.g., 0.5%-1%) toward meeting these recommendations," conclude the authors.
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Canadian Medical Association Journal

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