According to World Health Organization (WHO) cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020, or nearly one in six deaths. World Cancer Day Organization states that is more than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. By 2030, experts project cancer deaths to rise to 13 million if we do not act. The most common cancers are breast, lung, colon and rectum and prostate cancers. Many cancers can be cured if detected early and treated effectively. This year’s World Cancer Day theme is Close the Care Gap. #CloseTheCareGap
If we avoid risk factors and implement existing evidence-based prevention strategies, between 30% and 50% of cancers can be prevented. Palliative care is not a curative treatment but it is the treatment to relieve symptoms and suffering caused by diseases such as cancer and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Palliative care eases suffering and helps people to live more comfortably. Patients diagnosed with advanced cases of cancer need palliative care, especially where there is little chance of a cure. It is important to note that palliative care should not only be considered in the advanced stages of the disease but from diagnosis.
Palliative care offers relief from physical, psychological, and spiritual problems. Public health strategies that have proven to be effective such as community and home-based care are essential to provide pain relief and palliative care for patients and their families. Improved access to oral morphine is strongly recommended for the treatment of moderate to severe cancer pain, suffered by over 80% of people with cancer in the advanced stages.
70% of cancer deaths occur in low-to-middle-income countries. The Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA) has been involved in advocacy for people living with palliative care needs including cancer patients. One of the interventions was at the recent World Cancer Congress held in Geneva. Dr. Stephen Connor WHPCA ED moderated the big debate on medical aid in dying at the 2022 World Cancer Congress.
Whoever you are, you have the power to reduce the impact of cancer for yourself, the people you love and for the world. “On World Cancer Day, let us resolve to end the injustice of preventable suffering from this disease as part of our larger push to leave no one behind” – Ban Ki-moon, Former Secretary-General, United Nations.