In 2008, cancer accounted for more than 7.6 million deaths worldwide. By 2030, that number is projected to more than double, with 70% of deaths occurring in lower and middle income countries.
Radiation therapy is recognized as an essential tool in the cure and palliation of cancer, and is indicated in over half of new cancer patients. In LMICs, the need for radiation therapy may in fact be higher due to more advanced stage of disease at presentation.
Unfortunately, access to radiation therapy is limited in some countries and non-existent in others. Put simply, the cancer problem is growing fastest in those countries that are least prepared to deal with it. As a sobering example, 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
The Board of the UICC 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.
Structure and Goals
The GTFRCC will determine an investment framework that will identify:
- The global burden of cancer amenable to radiation therapy,
- The core investments required to provide radiation services, including facilities, equipment, human resources investments, and education to sustain and grow the service.
- The outcomes that might be expected from a global investment in radiation, including lives saved, patients palliated, and the economic benefits that could be expected.
Three smaller working groups within the general Task Force will determine the inputs in the framework. Other investments, either in health care (enabling services), or societal infrastructure (contextual readiness) will be informed through broad consultation with other stakeholders but will not form part of the core investment calculation.