05 February 2017

WHO Urges Early Diagnoses and Treatment of Cancers


New guidelines from the WHO launched on World Cancer Day on February 4, aims to improve the chances of survival for people living with cancer.


It would ensure that health services could focus on diagnosing and treatment of the disease earlier.



New WHO figures released this week indicated that 8.8 million people died from cancer annually, mostly in low- and middle-income countries.



A statement copied to the Ghana News Agency said the problem was that many cancer cases were diagnosed rather too late.



It said even in countries with optimal health systems and services, many cancer cases were diagnosed at an advanced stage, when they were harder to treat successfully.



Dr Etienne Krug, Director of WHO’s Department of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention said:” Diagnosing cancer in late stages, and the inability to provide treatment, condemns many people to unnecessary suffering and early death.



“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.



“This will result in more people surviving cancer. It will also be less expensive to treat and cure cancer patients.”



All countries can take steps to improve early diagnosis of cancer, according to WHO’s new Guide to cancer early diagnosis.



The three steps to early diagnosis are:


improve public awareness of different cancer symptoms and encourage people to seek care when these arise; invest in strengthening and equipping health services and training health workers so they can conduct accurate and timely diagnostics and ensure people living with cancer can access safe and effective treatment, including pain relief, without incurring prohibitive personal or financial hardship.



WHO encourages these countries to prioritise basic, high-impact and low-cost cancer diagnosis and treatment services.



The Organisation also recommends reducing the need for people to pay for care out of their own pockets, which prevents many from seeking help in the first place.



It said detecting cancer early also greatly reduces cancer’s financial impact: not only is the cost of treatment much less in cancer’s early stages, but people can also continue to work and support their families if they can access effective treatment in time.



It noted in 2010, the total annual economic cost of cancer through healthcare expenditure and loss of productivity was estimated at $ 1.16 trillion.



Strategies to improve early diagnosis can be readily built into health systems at a low cost.



In turn, effective early diagnosis can help detect cancer in patients at an earlier stage, enabling treatment that is generally more effective, less complex, and less expensive.



For example, 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.
Source: GNA
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