According to the WHO, cancers figure among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, with approximately 14 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer related deaths in 2012. The burden is overwhelming in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The CDC reports that more than half of new cancer cases and about two-thirds of cancer deaths occur in LMICs, but only 5% of global cancer resources are spent there.
Unfortunately, cancer is rarely the top issue in global health and development discussions. Perhaps this is because policymakers find it too hard to tackle, as noted by speakers at a Royal Society of Medicine event last week. One expert painted cancer control as a Mount Everest style challenge because it depends on “a vast set of capabilities, from complex infrastructure to technological capacity to end-of-life care.”
So, faced with a mountain before you get to cancer control, where do you begin? Experts suggest some options that can be delivered easily: simple diagnostic technologies, training nonspecialists to treat common cancers, better pain management, etc. A persistent challenge, however, is the poor availability of cancer registry data in the developing world. Access to accurate data is essential to engage policymakers ("what gets measured gets done").
Please feel free to share your thoughts on how to best tackle cancer in LMICs. How do we get the ball rolling?