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The 58th World Health Assembly adopts resolution on cancer prevention and control

WHO to prepare global cancer control strategy

In response to the urgency of the rising incidence of cancer, WHO Member States have today approved a resolution on Cancer Prevention and Control at the 58th World Health Assembly in Geneva.

The burden of cancer is high and increasing worldwide: it is the second leading cause of death, more than 20 million people are living with cancer, and seven million people die annually. The incidence of cancer is on the rise in both developing and developed countries as a result of increased exposure to cancer risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, as well as some infections and carcinogens. A rapidly ageing population in many countries is also a contributing factor.

Many countries have already recognized the urgency to respond to the cancer epidemic with national cancer policies and programmes. However, there are still important gaps between knowledge and practice in both developing and developed countries. This resolution calls on all Member States to develop national cancer programmes, which include increased prevention measures, early detection and screening, as well as improved treatment and palliative care.

Cancer spares no one. It touches the rich and poor, young and old, men, women and children. In addition to the financial cost of disease, cancer has important psychosocial repercussions for patients and their families and remains, in many parts of the world, a stigmatizing disease.

"Cancer represents a tremendous burden on patients, families, and societies. It is one of the leading causes of death in the world, and is increasing particularly in developing countries," said Dr LEE Jong-wook, WHO Director-General. "This resolution provides the impetus for countries to address this growing health crisis. Given the impact of cancer on public health, I am convening an advisory committee of leading experts on this issue to develop a global cancer control strategy."

The advisory committee to the Director-General will meet in Geneva in June to begin work towards a cancer control strategy. WHO will continue to work with its cancer research agency, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), to strengthen research into cancer, as well as increase support to Member States with guidelines, strategies and interventions for the prevention and treatment of cancer, including the Global Strategy on Diet and Physical Activity and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Treaty.

For more information contact:

Dr Catherine Le Galès-Camus
Assistant-Director General
Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, WHO
Telephone: +41 22 791 2999

Dr Robert Beaglehole
Director, Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion
Telephone: +41 22 791 2508

Jane McElligott
Communications Officer, Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health
World Health Organization
Telephone: +41 22 791 3353
Mobile phone: +41 79 477 17 40