World Cancer Congress, Aug. 27-30, 2012Last Updated: September 05, 2012.
The annual meeting of the World Cancer Congress was held from Aug. 27 to 30 in Montreal and attracted approximately 2,000 participants from around the world, including clinicians, academicians, allied health professionals, and others interested in oncology. The conference addressed finding solutions to reduce the impact of cancer on communities around the world, with sessions focusing on bringing clinical research and practice into the lives of those with cancer.
During one session, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, partnering with the American Cancer Society and the Health and Global Policy Institute, announced the initiation of the Patient Empowerment Project in Japan.
"The primary goal of this initiative is to bring cancer out of the closet. We want to help cancer patients and survivors find their voice -- to speak out about their experiences with cancer -- and, in so doing, to become better advocates for their own care and for the fight against cancer in their community," said Nathan Grey, M.P.H., the national vice president of global health at the American Cancer Society. "Clinicians are critical to our overall effort not only because of their role in providing care but also because of the influence they wield as respected experts in society. Empowered patients coupled with engaged clinicians creates a powerful force for change in individual patient care as well as in health systems and public policies."
Japan was chosen for this initiative because of the high burden of cancer in the country as well as the high level of stigma associated with the disease.
"Japan also has a growing patient movement and world class clinical care. The country is poised for positive change," Grey added. "The American Cancer Society and the Lance Armstrong Foundation are excited to join with our partners in Japan to empower cancer survivors in their fight and to enlist clinicians in a dynamic social movement to bring cancer under control at the earliest possible time."
During another session, global cancer leaders discussed initiatives needed to help deliver the United Nations commitment for a 25 percent reduction in premature deaths through non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 2025.
"A number of the key steps to achieve the '25 by 25' target have been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO). These 'best buys' include proven interventions that are cost-effective and scalable. Hepatitis B vaccination and low-cost cervical cancer screening are examples of best buys for cancer," Grey said.
In addition to the best buys, Grey said that there are a number of additional interventions that could have a significant impact on controlling NCDs.
"These interventions are not as cost-effective but could save many lives. Examples include breast cancer screening and the provision of essential medicines to treat cancer and other NCDs," he noted. "In order to implement these interventions governments and private institutions must commit significant new resources, and to track our progress, we must develop multisectoral approaches to measurement and evaluation."
An additional session discussed the human and economic costs associated with the lack of action on cancer, with a focus on developing worldwide cancer control programs.
"Unless we take targeted action, the total number of cancer deaths will rise from 7.4 million in 2008 to over 13 million in 2030," said Oleg Chestnov, M.D., the assistant director-general for non-communicable diseases and mental health at the WHO. "The poorest people in the poorest countries are hit hardest. Most developing countries have neither the financial and technical resources nor the necessary infrastructure and staff to cope with chronic care for cancer. Apart from vast human suffering, societies pay a high price as millions of people die needlessly, national budgets are overstretched, and households are impoverished by the burden of care."
According to Chestnov, most premature deaths from cancer are preventable and many types of cancer are treatable.
"We need to make sure that everybody can benefit from cost-effective prevention, treatment, and care," he said. "The WHO is promoting the development of national cancer control plans and programs to reduce the burden of the cancer epidemic."