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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 141-142

Ensuring early detection of cancer in low- and middle-income nations: World health organization

Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication16-Jun-2017

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, 3rd Floor, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/amhs.amhs_25_17

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How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Jegadeesh R. Ensuring early detection of cancer in low- and middle-income nations: World health organization. Arch Med Health Sci 2017;5:141-2

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Jegadeesh R. Ensuring early detection of cancer in low- and middle-income nations: World health organization. Arch Med Health Sci [serial online] 2017 [cited 2022 Jan 16];5:141-2. Available from: https://www.amhsjournal.org/text.asp?2017/5/1/141/208191


Globally, cancer has been ranked as one of the most common causes of morbidity, with close to 14 million new cases being reported in 2012 alone.[1] Further, it has been anticipated that the incidence of new cases is expected to increase by at least 70% in the coming two decades.[1] In terms of attributed deaths, cancer is the second most common cause, with one in six deaths globally has been attributed to cancer, of which almost three-fourth are reported in low- and middle-income nations.[1],[2] Moreover, it has been identified that 33% of the cancer-related deaths are due to five behavioral and dietary risks, with tobacco use being the most predominant.[2]

The current findings suggest that almost all deaths result due to late presentation or because of the inaccessibility to diagnostic and treatment modalities.[3] In fact, in the year 2015, it was identified that only 30% of the low-income nations had histopathology-related facilities in the government sector, while it was more than 90% among high-income nations.[3] It is important to note that cancers are associated with significant out-of-pocket catastrophic expenditures and social consequences.[1],[2],[3],[4] In addition, it is an alarming fact that only 20% of the low- and middle-income nations have the required data to support the development of a comprehensive policy.[3]

To respond to the challenge of late diagnosis and treatment, the World Health Organization (WHO) has released new guidelines, which is expected not only to provide early treatment, but also to protect people from unnecessary sufferings and early deaths.[3] Three key strategies have been identified to promote early detection, namely, improving awareness among general population about different cancer symptoms and to avail health care if they suspect anything, strengthening of the health-care delivery system by increasing investment, and ensuring access to effective treatment to people living with cancer.[3]

Moreover, varied extents of challenges have been observed in low- and middle-income nations, and even nations have had different capacities to refer cancer patients of appropriate level of care.[1],[2] The WHO envisages for the prioritization of basic, high-impact, and cheap cancer-related diagnostic and treatment services, especially in low-income nations.[3] At the same time, it has been emphasized to minimize the need for people to spend out of their own pockets, as it is one of the most important barriers in preventing people from availing health care.[3] Finally, the comprehensive package of cancer control also includes palliative care and survivorship care.[3]

The most important measure for the success of screening activities for cancer is to create awareness among the general population about the symptoms of the cancer and to supplement it with the expansion of screening activities.[1] A good option will be to involve medical colleges or other tertiary care institutes and train representatives from such institutes so that these trained personnel can be pioneer in their respective districts and then pass on their knowledge to other health-care providers, including outreach workers.[1],[2] This will be a great boost to the ongoing screening activities and will be of immense utility to even the health sector as the number of patients presenting in advanced stages of the disease can be significantly reduced.[1],[2],[3]

To conclude, accelerated government action to strengthen early diagnosis of cancer is a crucial step to ensure effective treatment for people diagnosed with cancer and to promote the accomplishment of universal health coverage and development-related goals indirectly.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

World Health Organization. Cancer - Fact Sheet No. 297; 2017. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs297/en/. [Last accessed on 2017 Mar 03].  Back to cited text no. 1
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Public health interventions to reduce the incidence of tobacco associated cancers. Int J Prev Med 2016;7:19.  Back to cited text no. 2
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
World Health Organization. Guide to Cancer Early Diagnosis. Geneva: WHO Press; 2017. p. 1-27.  Back to cited text no. 3
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Exploring the psychosocial and financial impact of cancer on caretakers. Clin Cancer Investig J 2015;4:590-1.  Back to cited text no. 4
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