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Half of annual cancer deaths can be prevented: Expert

5 February 2015 7:11


Almost half of the 7.5 million people who die of cancer globally every year can be saved, says the president of the Union for International Cancer Control.

Speaking at an event hosted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Tezer Kutluk said 3-4 million deaths from cancer can be prevented annually if governments invest in and expand treatment facilities for all.

“The threat is recognized…with concerted global action, technologies and finances solutions are not beyond us,” he said.

Kutluk joined several other leading researchers in a round-table discussion marking World Cancer Day. This year’s theme was “Not Beyond Us.”

IAEA Director General Yukio Amano told the group of panelists and international delegates that more forms of cancer are being cured as a result of advances in radiotherapy, which is becoming ever more precise.

Despite the advances, new cases of cancer are expected to rise by 70 percent over the next two decades. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by 2020, more than 20 million people globally will die of cancer every year.

Director of the IAEA’s Human Health Division May Abdel-Wahab told Press TV the statistics should serve as a wake-up call, prompting more investments in cancer treatment and prevention by governments as well as life style changes by individuals. Smoking and obesity are risk factors, she said, adding that early detection is extremely important.
More than 60% of the world’s total new annual cases of cancer occur in Africa, Asia and Central and South America. These regions account for 70% of the world’s cancer deaths. One of the reasons is the lack of adequate facilities and medical personnel.

“In Zambia, there’s is just one radiotherapy center for the 14-million population,” says Kennedy Lishimpi, the executive director of the Cancer Diseases Hospital in Zambia. Addressing the IAEA panel in Vienna, Lishimpi said cancer is no longer an incurable disease in all its forms, and governments must increase access to cancer care and control and decentralize services.

Experts estimate that more than four in 10 cancer cases can be prevented by lifestyle changes, such as avoiding tobacco, alcohol and radiation, keeping a healthy body weight, eating a healthy balanced diet, and keeping active.

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