67% cancer patients in SE Asia die before 70: WHO

In 2018, 18.1 million new cases of cancer developed worldwide; 9.6 million people died from the disease; 70% of the deaths occurred in low and middle-income countries, including those of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Southeast Asia region; and 67% of the region’s cancer patients died before the age of 70. The figures were released by the WHO Southeast Asia here on Monday on World Cancer Day.

Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, said: “Cancer is far from an equal-opportunity killer. Inadequate access to cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment is the primary cause of deaths.’’

She explained that, in 2017, just 30% of low-income countries reported having cancer treatment services available.

Just 26% of low-income countries meanwhile reported having pathology services generally available in the public sector, leading to late diagnosis and a lower chance of successful treatment.

According to figures for India released by the National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research (NICPR), one woman dies of cervical cancer every eight minutes in India; for every two women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, one woman dies of it in India; as many as 2,500 persons die every day due to tobacco-related diseases; and tobacco (smoked and smokeless) use accounted for 3,17,928 deaths in men and women in 2018.

Stressing the need to integrate national cancer control programmes into health systems at every level Dr. Singh noted: ``While tertiary services are important, they are expensive and generally most effective when a cancer is detected early. To make that happen, effective cancer screening services must be available at both secondary and primary facilities, while health workers must be trained to identify the signs and symptoms that could lead to a positive diagnosis.’’

The release issued by the WHO noted that the theme of this year’s World Cancer Day — ‘I am and I will’ — emphasises that each of us can be a changemaker.

“By avoiding behaviours that are linked to cancer, we can reduce our own risk while encouraging our peers to do the same. Notably, we can also promote high-level engagement and funding of national programmes. As a 2014 World Health Assembly resolution urges, beyond prevention and control, this should include promoting quality palliative services [that are] able to give terminal patients the care and dignity they deserve,” noted the release.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2020 5:26:13 PM |

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