Early Cancer Diagnosis, Treatment Saves More Lives

The World Health Organization seeks to improve early cancer detection to increase survivors and cut treatment costs.

In an effort to improve cancer survival rates, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a report with a goal to ensure health services place greater focus on early diagnosis and treatment, according to Reuters.

“Diagnosing cancer in late stages, and the inability to provide treatment, condemns many people to unnecessary suffering and early death,” Etienne Krug, WHO expert on cancer and chronic diseases, told Reuters.

Early diagnosis followed by prompt cancer treatment would help more individuals survive the disease, particularly in breast cancer, cervical cancer, and colorectal cancer, according to Krug.

Furthermore, early detection could significantly cut down on treatment costs, thereby reducing the financial impact of the disease.

“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,” the WHO report stated.

Many poorer countries are faced with more significant challenges due to a lack of diagnostics services and treatments. The WHO urges these countries to prioritize basic, high-impact, and low-cost cancer diagnosis and treatment services.

Cancer accounts for an estimated 1 in 6 deaths worldwide, according to the WHO report. In 2010, the annual combined cost of health care and loss of productivity was approximately $1.16 trillion.

Each year, more than 14 million individuals develop cancer, killing 8.8 million people per year. According to the WHO, this number is projected to increase to more than 21 million by 2030.