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W.H.O. Seeks Worldwide Campaign Against Cancer

I’m Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English Health Report.

The World Health Organization has established an international committee of cancer experts. The experts will develop a plan to fight what the W.H.O. calls “the global epidemic of cancer.” They held their first meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, earlier this month.

The advisory committee is expected to develop the W.H.O. Global Cancer Control Strategy by early next year. The goal is to reduce cancer rates and improve quality of life for cancer patients and their families.

The W.H.O. is the United Nations health agency. Delegates at the World Health Assembly meeting last month approved a resolution on cancer prevention and control. They agreed on the need to do more to fight increases in cancer deaths. The committee is a first step.

The World Health Organization says more than twenty million people are living with cancer. The disease is a leading cause of death. Cancer kills almost seven million people a year. By comparison, AIDS-related conditions kill three million people a year.

The W.H.O. expects the number of cancer deaths to increase fifty percent within fifteen years. The agency says cancer rates are on the rise in both developing and developed countries. It says the increase is linked to such things as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and a lack of exercise.

Infections and cancer-producing chemicals are also responsible. Medical experts say at least one-third of all cancers can be prevented.

In some developing countries, people are living longer because of better treatments for infectious diseases. But cancer risk increases with age. As a result, aging populations play a part in the increase in cancer rates.

Worldwide, the most common cancers in men are in the lungs and stomach. In women, the most common are breast and cervical cancer. The W.H.O. notes that some of the most common forms of cancer are curable with operations, drugs or radiation treatment.

Many countries have national cancer policies and programs. However, health officials say more action is needed.

The World Health Assembly resolution calls on all member states to develop national cancer programs. These would include prevention measures, early cancer testing, and improved treatment and care for those living with cancer.

This VOA Special English Health Report was written by Cynthia Kirk. Our reports are on the Web at I’m Gwen Outen.