The growing cancer burden
The global burden of cancer is increasing at an alarming rate and presents a major public health and development challenge.
In 2012, it was estimated that there were over 14 million new cases of cancer and over 8 million deaths from cancer. By 2030, these startling figures are expected to increase to over 21 million new cases a year and 13 million deaths.
The greatest impact of this increase will fall on developing countries, which are least prepared to deal with the consequences of the disease. These countries are expected to shoulder around 70% of all cancer deaths in the next 15 years.
If cancer patients had greater access to affordable early cancer diagnosis and treatment, these figures would be different.
A target in the recently endorsed Sustainable Development Goals looks to reduce early deaths to non-communicable diseases, including cancer, by one third by 2030.Achieving this ambitious target could result in saving at least 40 million lives from cancer. This, however, requires a concerted effort from a broad range of partners in multiple sectors to considerably scale-up resources and establish strong political commitment in order to provide an effective global response to cancer.
Confronting the Crisis
In 2004, the IAEA responded to the growing cancer crisis by establishing the Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT). Jointly with the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and many others, PACT has worked to build a coalition of global partners committed to addressing the challenge of cancer in low and middle income IAEA Member States. This broad network of organizations supports countries to deliver greater access to cancer related health technologies, build skills and knowledge, and to raise funds to develop a complete range of services for cancer patients.
A comprehensively structured and effective national cancer control programme links and integrates cancer control planning, cancer registration and surveillance, prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, and palliative care. A well-planned cancer control infrastructure should form the basis of a robust national investment, which will benefit cancer patients for decades to come. Government commitment, supported by expertise from PACT's strategic partners, is vital to develop and implement successful cancer control programmes.
PACT's goals are:
- Build global partnerships with key international organizations that are committed to addressing the challenges posed by cancer in low and middle income countries (LMICs).
- Mobilize resources from public and private entities to assist LMICs develop and maintain the ability to provide radiation medicine within a comprehensive national cancer control programme.
- Continue to support the provision of radiation medicine technologies and knowledge effectively and sustainably to all LMI Member States where the need is greatest.
- Support IAEA Member States with cancer control capacity and needs assessments, and targeted capacity building activities to strengthen their national cancer control programmes.
- Support effective and affordable access to quality cancer control services to all in need.