GLOBAL TASK FORCE ON RADIOTHERAPY FOR CANCER CONTROL

Radiation therapy is recognised as an essential tool in the cure and palliation of cancer, and is recommended in 52% of new cancer patients.

In low- and middle- income countries (LMICs), the need for radiation therapy may in fact be higher due to more advanced stage of disease at presentation. It has also been established that proximity and timely access to radiotherapy facilities are known to affect clinical outcomes. Unfortunately, access to radiation therapy is limited in some countries and non-existent in others (1). Put simply, the cancer problem is growing fastest in those countries that are least prepared to deal with it.

29 of 52 African nations have no radiotherapy facilities at all, and these 29 countries comprise an estimated 198 million people.

Furthermore, radiation therapy is often perceived as a complex and expensive solution. However, failing to deploy radiation therapy resources will only exacerbate the burden of cancer and will reinforce this continuing health care disparity among nations and at an individual level.

Significant effort and tangible progress have already been made to address this deficiency; most notably through the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) (2).

THE SCALE OF THE PROBLEM CALLS FOR A COORDINATED GLOBAL RESPONSE.

We are challenged to provide the world with a clear assessment of the cancer treatment shortfall of radiotherapy to raise awareness, facilitate planning, attract investment, and improve global access to this powerful, effective, and critical component of cancer treatment.

UICC’s Board of Directors has approved the convening of a Global Task Force on Radiotherapy for Cancer Control (GTFRCC) to address this very challenge under their purpose – “…to unite the cancer community to reduce the global cancer burden, to promote greater equity, and to integrate cancer control into the world health and development agenda.”

By bringing cancer leaders together with radiotherapy professionals, industry partners, cancer control organizations, patient groups, economists, and enablers of healthcare change, the GTFRCC seeks to clarify the challenge, identify opportunities, and quantify the investment needed to provide equity in global access to radiation therapy an essential technology that all cancer patients must be able to access.

To read more about the GTFRCC and our key messages around radiation therapy please download the full introductory briefing.

References:

  1. Radiation availability map http://cancer.iaea.org/agart.asp
  2. http://cancer.iaea.org/mission.asp