WHO marks World Cancer Day with new strategy

In collaboration with the Press Association

To mark World Cancer Day this weekend, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched a new campaign emphasising the preventable causes of the disease, such as a poor diet and tobacco use.

WHO estimates that eight million of the 84 million expected global cancer deaths in the next decade will be due to avoidable causes.

The Cancer Control: Knowledge into Action - WHO Guide for Effective Programmes, a series of six information packs, is intended to aid states in developing strategies to reduce the number of cancer cases and improve the treatment and care of cancer patients.

The plan will seek to reduce chronic disease death rates by two per cent a year up to 2015, and will target the main causes of cancer in low to middle-income countries, where more than 70 per cent of cancer deaths occur.

"We must address the tremendous inequalities between developed and developing countries in terms of cancer prevention, treatment and care," said Dr Catherine Le Gales-Camus, assistant director-general for non-communicable diseases and mental health at WHO.

"Despite our knowledge that many cases are avoidable, or curable when detected early and treated according to best evidence, sadly for many people tumours are detected too late and adequate treatment is not available," she added.

Tobacco use alone accounted for almost a fifth of the 7.6 million cancer deaths in 2005, said the organisation, making it the leading preventable cause of cancer.

WHO estimates that up to 40 per cent of cancers worldwide are potentially preventable. Some of the leading causes of cancer in the developed world, such as smoking and obesity, are also increasing in low to middle-income countries.