Did You Know? IAEA Helps Fight Cancer

4 February 2013
'Unless we take urgent action, by 2030 over 13 million people will die from cancer every year. The majority of these deaths will occur in developing countries.' <br />- IAEA Director General Yukiya AmanoCancer is a group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. If the spread is not controlled, it can result in death. Cancer is caused by both external factors (tobacco, infectious organisms, chemicals and radiation) and internal factors (inherited mutations, hormones, immune conditions and mutations that occur from metabolism).Cancer is not a death sentence; there are proven ways to prevent and cure cancer. A third of all cancers can be prevented, and a third can be successfully cured. The IAEA has been working for over 40 years to bring radiotherapy, a highly effective treatment for cancer, to low and middle-income countries.Controlled doses of radiation can help shrink, and even eliminate, cancerous tumours. Radiation medicine is also used to help diagnose cancer accurately and reduce pain and suffering associated with the disease. Approximately 50–60% of people with cancer require radiotherapy at some point during their treatment. Sadly, in the developing world, only 20% of patients who need radiotherapy have access to it.Cancer causes poverty. It decimates savings and robs families of income earners (through illness itself or as caretakers for the sick). Already, over 85% of health costs in low-income countries are paid out of pocket and more than 100 million people are pushed into poverty every year because they lack insurance and have to pay for health care.In some Asian countries, the average cost of one hospital stay for cancer is greater than a farmer's yearly wage.To illustrate the benefits of collaboration on national cancer control programmes, the IAEA’s Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) has established global models for action, called PACT Model Demonstration Sites (PMDSs). PMDSs receive assistance in the design, implementation and evaluation of national cancer control plans and are given support in resource mobilization, to advance all aspects of cancer control.These sites demonstrate the potential that all developing nations have to achieve greater success in the struggle to control cancer. This provides low and middle-income countries with not only a solid example from which to learn, but also hope in knowing that other countries overcame difficult circumstances to improve cancer standards and outcomes. PACT currently maintains eight PMDSs, located in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe.
Last update: 15 October 2014