News / Health

WHO: We Can't Beat Cancer With Drugs Alone

FILE - A researcher works near a blood test machine recently developed that is so sensitive it can spot a single cancer cell lurking among a billion healthy ones, Jan. 3, 2011.
FILE - A researcher works near a blood test machine recently developed that is so sensitive it can spot a single cancer cell lurking among a billion healthy ones, Jan. 3, 2011.
Reuters
Governments must make better use of vaccines and preventative public health policies in the fight against cancer as treatment alone cannot stem the disease, a World Health Organization (WHO) agency said on Monday.

The WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said cancer was growing "at an alarming pace" worldwide and new strategies were needed to curb the sometimes fatal and often costly disease.

"It's untenable to think we can treat our way out of the cancer problem. That alone will not be a sufficient response," Christopher Wild, IARC's director and co-editor of its World Cancer Report 2014, told reporters at a London briefing. "More commitment to prevention and early detection is desperately needed... to complement improved treatments and address the alarming rise in the cancer burden globally."

The World Cancer Report, which is only produced roughly once every five years, involved a collaboration of around 250 scientists from more than 40 countries.

Projected Cancer Incidence and Mortality, 2012 to 2025 (WHO GloboCan)Projected Cancer Incidence and Mortality, 2012 to 2025 (WHO GloboCan)
x
Projected Cancer Incidence and Mortality, 2012 to 2025 (WHO GloboCan)
Projected Cancer Incidence and Mortality, 2012 to 2025 (WHO GloboCan)
It said access to effective and relatively inexpensive cancer drugs would significantly cut death rates, even in places where health-care services are less well developed.

The spiraling costs of cancer are hurting the economies of even the richest countries and are often way beyond the reach of poorer nations. In 2010, the total annual economic cost of cancer was estimated at around $1.16 trillion.

Yet around half of all cancers could be avoided if current knowledge about cancer prevention was properly implemented, Wild told reporters.

Sharp Rise in Cases Expected

The report said that in 2012 - the latest year for which data are available - new cancer cases rose to an estimated 14 million a year, a figure expected to grow to 22 million within the next two decades.

Over the same period, cancer deaths are predicted to rise from an estimated 8.2 million a year to 13 million per year.

The data mean that at current rates, one in five men and one in six women worldwide will develop cancer before they reach 75 years old, while one in eight men and one in 12 women will die from the disease.

Major Cancer Risks

  • Tobacco use
  • Infections
  • Alcohol use
  • Inactivity and obesity
  • Radiation from the sun and medical tests
  • Air pollution, naturally occurring carcinogens
  • Reproductive factors, including having children later

Source: WHO / IARC
In 2012, the most common cancers diagnosed were lung, breast and colon or bowel cancers, while the most common causes of cancer death were lung, liver and stomach cancers.

As populations across the world are both growing and ageing, IARC said developing countries were disproportionately affected by the increasing numbers of cancers.

"Behind each one of these numbers, there's an individual and a family faced with a tragic situation," Wild said.

More than 60 percent of the world's total cases occur in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America, and these regions account for about 70 percent of the world's cancer deaths, it said. The situation is made worse in poorer countries by the lack of early detection and access to treatment.

"Governments must show political commitment to progressively step up the implementation of high-quality screening and early detection programs, which are an investment rather than a cost," said Bernard Stewart, another co-editor of the report.

The experts highlighted efforts to curb rates of smoking, the use of vaccines to prevent infections that cause cervical and liver cancers and policies aimed at bringing down rates of obesity as key areas in which more should be done.

"Adequate legislation can encourage healthier behavior," said Stewart.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs