Childhood cancer on the rise across the developing world

Published on February 20, 2013 at 10:06 AM · No Comments

Investment in health-care systems and capacity (including equipment and drugs), more and better-trained health professionals, and the establishment of regional hospital networks and international collaboration are essential to improving outcomes. In particular, twinning programmes between developed and developing countries, and different regions, can provide international mentoring, medical education, access to up-to-date treatments, and increase participation in international clinical trials.

Additionally, cancer registries (often the only unbiased source of information on cancer burden) are urgently needed to assess the situation within each country and support decision making. In Africa, for instance, only 1% of the population is covered by population-based cancer registries providing data on cancer incidence, compared to more than 80% in North America and Oceania, and 33% in Europe.

“Measurable 5-year survival outcomes, even if substantially less than those of high income countries at first, will help to create a dynamic that is not easily ignored by politicians”, say the authors.

Finally, they add, strategies to dispel the myth that developing countries cannot afford to treat children with cancer are needed. “Because children have their entire lives ahead of them, saving the lives of children has a much greater effect on economic development than does cancer care for older people”, explains Magrath, “Treatment of curable childhood cancers is highly cost effective, even if it is only possible in a few institutions.”

Source: Lancet Oncology

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