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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs