Global funding boost could prevent 3 million cancer deaths

In collaboration with the Press Association

Boosting funding for global cancer services could save millions of lives each year, according to a global cancer organisation.

“Cancer is a disease without borders. It affects millions of people around the world every day which is why World Cancer Day is so important” - Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK

The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) believes the equivalent of a £12 billion investment increase each year could result in a 30 per cent reduction in worldwide cancer deaths; equating to three million people in low and middle income countries by 2030.

Almost two-thirds of the eight million people who lose their lives to cancer each year live in low and mainly middle-income countries.

But the UICC fears that the number of cancer cases in developing countries will rise dramatically in the coming years due to population growth and ageing, meaning the resulting number of cancer deaths could rise even higher. 

The UICC is calling for urgent action and wants to see increased annual international community funding of US$18 billion globally. It is urging governments to step up and commit funds.

Prevention, earlier detection and improved care for cancer patients would be the main areas to benefit, while a proportion would also go towards pain relief to improve the quality of end-of-life care for cancer patients.

Professor Tezer Kutluk, the UICC’s President, is leading the call to help ease the global cancer burden at an event in Geneva to mark World Cancer Day.

He says it is “entirely unrealistic” to expect the poorest nations in the world to contribute to this improved investment without international support.

Harpal Kumar, chief executive at Cancer Research UK, echoed the sentiment. 

“Cancer is a disease without borders. It affects millions of people around the world every day which is why World Cancer Day is so important,” he said.

“By uniting on this day, we want to raise awareness of the disease and what we need to do to reduce its devastating impact. Our ambition is to see more people survive cancer than ever before and together we can make this happen.”

A tripling of tobacco taxes alone would raise revenue available to governments to US$400 billion (£265 billion) per year, while greater regulation and control could also help reduce the number of tobacco-related cancers worldwide.

Other so-called “best buy” measures laid out in the UICC’s announcement include a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination for adolescent girls to prevent cervical cancer, and a Hepatitis B vaccination to prevent the onset of liver cancer. 

All interventions are cost-effective, affordable in most middle-income countries - and attainable in low-income countries, with international assistance - and feasible within the 2030 timeframe, according to the UICC.

  • Globe image by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons