Global Health and Cancer Is cancer a global health issue?

Is Cancer a Global Health Issue?

Even with many new breakthroughs in medical research and treatments, the prevalence of cancer is on the rise across the globe and it is a significant global health issue. As far back as 2012, there were 4.1 million new cancer cases reported with 8.2 million cancer-related deaths during that same year. It has been projected by the World Health Organization (WHO) that as many as 24 million people will come down with a new case of cancer by the year 2035 and that it is likely that this will result in as many as 14.5 million cancer-related deaths in this and subsequent years.

Global Health

Global health is the understanding of health in a global and interdisciplinary context. Global health involves examining, studying and coming up with action plans to improve health care at both local and international levels. It includes study, research, and practicing medicine with a focus on improving health and healthcare equity worldwide. 

Global health looks at both medical and non-medical disciplines as a means to study how to improve global health. These disciplines include but are not limited to epidemiology, sociology, economic disparities, public policy, environmental factors, and cultural and political studies. 

Many agencies that focus on global health issues are located in industrialized countries with a focus on improving worldwide health and healthcare equity. 

Global Health and Cancer

Even with improvements in global health and global health outcomes, cancer is becoming a more and more prevalent global health issue. Premature deaths from infectious diseases and other causes has declined in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) but things such as obesity, inactivity and tobacco use in these countries, are being linked to cancer more and more. Overall rates of cancer are lower in low- and middle- income countries as they have historically been compared to the rates of developed countries, but nearly 60 percent of the world’s cancer cases in 2012 occurred in low- and middle-income countries and these are where 65 percent of cancer deaths occurred. 

The global trends that see increases in cancer occurring in low- and middle-income countries are driving efforts to help governments address the growing global health problem of cancer. Different countries have different resources and access to resources for addressing global health problems but many are focusing on cancer prevention, screening, treatment and supportive care.

Global Cancer Research

U.S. and other high income government agencies, non government organizations, and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, are increasingly partnering with low- and middle-income ministries of health and other national health-system policymakers, to develop programs for cancer prevention, cancer control strategies, user friendly diagnostic tools, and cost-effective access to effective treatments.

Studying cancer and coming up with action plans at the global level for low- and middle-income countries has the potential to inform and improve efforts to address cancer needs in the U.S. and other high-income countries. 

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