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World Cancer Congress Opens

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http://www.cancer.org/docroot/NWS/conte ... ton_DC.asp

Make Cancer Control a Priority, Experts Urge

Article date: 2006/07/08

Cancer researchers, advocates, and public health experts are gathering in Washington, DC, to discuss ways to make the cancer fight a priority.

Saturday marks the beginning of the 2006 World Cancer Congress, sponsored by the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the International Union Against Cancer (UICC). The conference, which runs through July 12, will give participants an opportunity to learn not only about medical advances in the fight against cancer, but also how different countries are taking action to curb its dreadful toll.

Saturday's opening session will focus on the challenges of cancer prevention around the world.

"Scientific advances have given us the knowledge we need to save lives, yet we have not succeeded in reducing the growing burden of cancer," said John R. Seffrin, PhD, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society and immediate volunteer past president of the UICC. "This gap between what is and what could be is the single most important issue facing the cancer community."

A Looming Challenge

Cancer kills some 7 million people worldwide each year, and that figure is projected to grow to 10 million by 2020. At least 65% of those deaths will occur in developing countries.

To help combat the problem, organizers of the conference are calling on governments and other social leaders to make cancer control a priority with a "World Cancer Declaration."

"This Declaration is a formal commitment from world leaders across the globe to take part in ending the cancer epidemic, not simply by signing their name, but by agreeing to allocate knowledge, time, funding, and other resources that will make a difference," said UICC president Franco Cavalli, who also is director of the Oncology Institute of Southern Switzerland.

Former US President George H.W. Bush will discuss some strategies for doing this, drawing on his experience as co-chair of C-Change, a US-based coalition of business, government and non-profit leaders dedicated to fighting cancer.

"The work that has been done with C-Change here in the US can and should be replicated by cancer leagues around the world," Bush said. "Collaboration will help us to eliminate cancer as a major health problem."

Spotlight on Tobacco

Collaboration will also be a theme of the ACS-sponsored 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health, which is set to begin immediately after the World Cancer Congress ends on July 12. Participants in that conference will discuss strategies for reducing tobacco use and limiting people's exposure to secondhand smoke, among other topics.

This is the first time the two conferences have been held back to back. The events are expected to draw 5,500 participants from more than 130 countries.

Tobacco control is an integral part of cancer control because of the strong link between tobacco use and several forms of cancer. Smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer, accounting for around 80% of cases in developed nations. Tobacco use is also linked to cancers of the head and neck, bladder, kidney, pancreas, cervix, stomach, and colon, as well as acute myeloid leukemia.

Beyond cancer, tobacco use can cause heart disease, stroke, lung disease, and other ailments. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that tobacco use causes about 5 million deaths worldwide every year.

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