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Call for cancer surgery worldwide

Tuesday September 29th, 2015

Most cancer patients globally do not have access to "proper, safe, affordable" surgery when they need it, a conference was told yesterday.

More than 80% of patients with a cancer diagnosis need surgery - but fewer than 25% will get good treatment, experts said.

The experts, brought together by The Lancet Oncology journal, reported their findings to the European Cancer Congress in Vienna, Austria.

In low-income countries as few as 5% of cancer patients are likely to get basic surgery, they reported.

There are also problems in the poorer countries of the EU, they report.

Many of the worst-affected countries face increasing rates of cancer.

By 2020, the world will see 22 million new cancer patients, the experts say. More than 17 million will need surgery and ten million of these will be in low and middle-income countries.

Professor Riccardo Audisio, President of the European Society for Surgical Oncology, said: "Policy makers at all levels still have little awareness of the central importance of surgery to cancer control.

"Even recent studies of capacity building for cancer systems in Africa barely acknowledged the importance of surgery, focusing mainly on chemotherapy instead."

Professor Richard Sullivan, of the Institute of Cancer Policy, King's College London, UK, said: "With many competing health priorities and substantial financial constraints in many low- and middle-income countries, surgical services for cancer are given low priority within national cancer plans and are allocated few resources.

"As a result, access to safe, affordable cancer surgical services is dismal."

Lancet Oncology 28 September 2015 [abstract]

Tags: Cancer | Europe | World Health

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