FIGHT Against Cancer: Stories Of Survival

In low- and middle-income countries, cancers in women are frequently discovered too late, due to limited access to diagnostic and treatment technologies and relevant expertise. While breast and cervical cancer are often treatable when diagnosed early, the chance for successful treatment is lower when diagnosed in a more advanced stage. An event held on the margins of the 62nd IAEA General Conference focused on the role of radiation medicine in the diagnosis and treatment of breast and cervical cancer.

With the aim to reduce the mortality rates among women with cervical cancer in six pilot countries by 25 per cent by 2025, two years ago seven United Nations agencies, including the IAEA, established the UN Joint Global Programme on Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control. In May 2018, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, issued a call to action for the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem. The role of the IAEA is to support the use of nuclear techniques in diagnosis and treatment and strengthen international cooperation in radiation medicine, said May Abdel-Wahab, Director of the IAEA’s Division of Human Health.Sponsored: Gambar Koala

According to WHO, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women, with 570,000 cases in 2018. “One woman dies every 2 minutes, we need to keep that in mind,” said Rolando Herrero, Section Head at the International Agency for Research on Cancer. “Given the demographic change that is happening, and the ageing of the population, by 2040 we are going to have an enormous increase in cases.”

Several low- and middle-income countries lack basic resources and know-how in imaging and radiation therapy. Helping these countries acquire the right equipment and training their medical professionals are therefore a priority in addressing the global disparity in survival rates. Educating the wider population about the risks of cervical cancer and the importance of prevention through screening is also paramount.

“Female cancers are not only a medical issue, but also a gender parity and socioeconomic issue,” Abdel-Wahab said. “The prospect of the prevention of cervical cancer through HPV vaccination, as well as the advent of sophisticated radiotherapy approaches for treatment and eventual elimination are encouraging.”

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