A recent report by the Lancet Oncology Commission called for a radical shift in cancer policy aimed at addressing the growing disparity between access to cancer care in wealthy versus developing nations.
The commission, which consists of cancer experts from around the world, was delivered at the 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress, held this week in Berlin.
Professor Richard Sullivan, from London, told participants that the costs of new cancer cases in 2009 alone were estimated to be $286 billion. By 2030, experts estimate there will be 22 million new cases of cancer, worldwide, per year.
"The global challenge to countries is how to deliver reasonably priced cancer care to all citizens - i.e. make cancer care affordable to individuals and society," said Professor Sullivan.
The report's authors recommended an array of steps to be taken to manage rising costs and insure that care will remain available and affordable for all.
"We are at a crossroads for affordable cancer care, where our choices - or refusal to make choices - will affect the lives of millions of people," Professor Sullivan said.
"Do we bury our heads in the sand, keep our fingers crossed, and hope that it turns out fine, or do we have difficult debates and make hard choices within a socially responsible, cost-effective, and sustainable framework?"
European CanCer Organisation (ECCO) President, Professor Michael Baumann echoed Sullivan's remarks, and praised the efforts of Lancet Oncology. "It is of the utmost importance that oncology professionals promote evidence-based discussion of the economics of cancer care. All health systems face budget limitations, while at the same time the cancer burden and expenditures are increasing steeply. Every cancer patient, now and in the future, must have fair access to quality cancer care and to innovation. This can only be safeguarded by transparent and evidence-based analysis and policy development. This initiative by Lancet Oncology is a very important step in this direction."
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