Early cancer diagnosis, better trained medics can save lives and money
Feb.5, NY: Early cancer diagnosis saves lives and cuts treatment costs, the United Nations health agency today said, particularly in developing countries where the majority of cancer cases are diagnosed too late.
New guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO), released ahead of World Cancer Day which is marked annually on 4 February, tries to inform the public about the different symptoms of cancer so that they can get care and to provide safe and effective treatment.
“Diagnosing cancer in late stages, and the inability to provide treatment, condemns many people to unnecessary suffering and early death,” said Dr. Etienne Krug, Director of WHO's Department for the Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention.
“By taking the steps to implement WHO's new guidance, healthcare planners can improve early diagnosis of cancer and ensure prompt treatment, especially for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers,” he stressed.
Each year, 8.8 million people die from cancer, mostly in low- and middle-income countries, according to WHO figures. The figure is so high that is accounts for two and a half times more people killed than those who die from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.
It is estimated that by 2030, more than two-thirds of all cancer-related deaths will be in developing countries.
Early detection can also cut the cost of treatment. In 2010, the total annual economic cost of cancer through healthcare expenditure and loss of productivity was estimated at $1.16 trillion.
According to WHO, studies in high-income countries have shown that treatment for cancer patients who have been diagnosed early are two to four times less expensive compared to treating people diagnosed with cancer at more advanced stages.
The Oslo Times International News Network