Cutting Cancer Treatment Costs to Save More Lives

PACT and LSHTM sponsor cancer registry education

14 July 2010

Cancer registries play a vital role in the generation and management of cancer control plans. A cancer registry is a systematic collection of data about cancer, built from specific information on an individual's cancer diagnosis and treatment results, used to create a comprehensive picture of cancer in a country.

Accurately registering cancer patients, and tracking the outcomes of their treatment, is the only way for governments and partner organizations to understand the incidence and pattern of cancer in a country and ensure that the right plans and corrective public health measures are taken to address the problem. Unfortunately in many low and middle income countries such registries are under-developed or non-existent, leaving countries with incomplete information to develop their cancer control plans.

In late June, the IAEA's Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) collaborated to further train individuals working on cancer registries from Algeria, Egypt and Sudan. LSHTM is a world-leader in cancer registration, prompting PACT to sponsor the costs for the three individuals to attend such renowned programming. The training course, called “Cancer survival: principles, methods and analysis”, focused on the life-saving applications of population-based cancer registries.

“It is hard to overstate the importance of these training fellowships for participants who could not normally afford to attend a course like this,” explained LSHTM's Professor Michel Coleman, who co-led the course alongside Dr Bernard Rachet. “The intellectual stimulation is long-lasting. They gain an intensive introduction to analytic techniques, they meet an international group of scientists dedicated to analysing national and international patterns of cancer survival with the best methods, they go home with the latest tools for survival analysis, and they make contacts with fellow students from all over the world. We have often collaborated with participants on these courses after they return home.”

The week-long course has been running successfully for four years and has attracted participants from 37 world countries. It is designed to improve an individuals understanding of cancer registration and develop the ability to effectively utilize a cancer registry, aiding in the development of local cancer control programmes. The course, held annually, was attended by nearly 50 students from over 22 countries.

Establishing and updating a cancer registry is estimated to cost $25,000, making the sponsorship of expensive registry training an extremely valuable contribution to the overall registry development process.


Developing countries, particularly in Africa, are in great need of health care professionals to respond to the increasing number of cancer cases emerging in low and middle income countries. The current need in Africa alone exceeds 3,000 medical practitioners over the next ten years. This number includes hundreds of cancer registry positions.

Talks on the LSHTM and IAEA collaboration began late last year, with the goal in mind of sponsoring medical practitioners from developing countries to learn the use and maintenance of cancer registries, as a means to improve the overall cancer responses of low and middle income countries.

LSHTM and the IAEA hope to collaborate further to reduce the shortage of medical professionals in Africa and throughout the world.