The American Cancer Society will be front and center when the World Cancer Congress kicks off today in Montreal. Society CEO John R. Seffrin, PhD, will update delegates on efforts to eliminate non-communicable diseases and reduce disparities in health care. Other Society experts will address a wide range of issues including diet and cancer risk, access to pain medications, and ways to use social media to educate people about the disease.
The Society’s work in providing help and support to cancer patients and survivors in the United States is widely known, but in the past few years, the organization has begun to focus on global health efforts. Nathan Grey, Vice President of Global Health, explains:
“We’ve recognized almost since the beginning of the organization that there was a cancer problem beyond our borders. For many years we worked through UICC, the Union for International Cancer Control, to carry out that mission, but more recently we’ve started to dedicate a small portion of our own resources to the global fight against cancer.”
Worldwide, the burden of cancer is growing, especially in low and middle income countries largely due to the aging and growing population and adoption of unhealthy lifestyles such as tobacco use and consumption of calorie-dense food. The burden in these countries is further aggravated by lack of prevention, access to cancer screening and treatment programs. Grey says the Society has focused on specific areas in an effort to save more lives:
“We support interventions to address women’s cancer, cervical cancer and breast cancer, which have a devastating effect on women throughout the world. Tobacco, which is the leading cause of preventable death and disability throughout the world, is a special focus of our work. We have a major effort in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond to make sure it doesn’t become a worse problem than it already is.”
Grey says solving these problems won’t happen overnight. In fact, he expects it will take decades to make real progress in controlling cancer around the world. He stresses that the American Cancer Society cannot do it alone.
“As we come together in Montreal and reconnect with all these partners, part of the message is ‘it is time to act now.’ It is time to act aggressively. We’ve got to be in this for the long haul. We’re not going to be able to turn to other business next year. We’ve all got to roll up our sleeves and get down to business. We’re not going to stop until we’ve done everything we possibly can to bring this disease under control.”
For more information on the American Cancer Society’s worldwide efforts go to: global.cancer.org. Follow updates on the conference at #cancercongress.