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WHO Cancer Country Profiles 2014

The Profiles provide national stakeholders for the first time with a one-reference synthesis of the country cancer situation. Each profile features the individual country’s cancer burden, top cancer trends, cancer specific risk factors (tobacco, alcohol, physical inactivity, obesity, household fuel use), capacity for interventions, strategies, evaluation and monitoring.

Non-communicable Diseases Progress Monitor 2015

The Monitor provides a snapshot of some of the achievements and challenges faced by both developed and developing countries as they strive to reach globally agreed targets to combat cancer, diabetes, and heart and lung disease. It uses the 10 indicators and their sub-indicators on which WHO will base its report on progress at the 2018 High-level Meeting on NCDs at the UN General Assembly, covering a range of critical issues, from the setting of overall NCD reduction targets, to strong measures to reduce tobacco consumption, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity, along with measures to strengthen treatment and care for people with NCDs.

Early detection and diagnosis



The classification of cancer by anatomic disease extent, i.e. stage, is the major determinant of appropriate treatment and prognosis. Stage is an increasingly important component of cancer surveillance and cancer control and an endpoint for the evaluation of the population-based screening and early detection efforts.



Childhood Cancer Signs and Symptoms Campaign

Childhood Cancer International (CCI), the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP) and Union for International Cancer Control  (UICC) have collaborated on a joint 'Signs and Symptoms' campaign to raise the knowledge and awareness of health workers about the warning signs of childhood cancer. The campaign aims to generate health sector support for better detection, diagnosis and treatment of childhood cancer.


Initial materials developed for the campaign included a poster with common signs and symptoms of childhood cancer and a pocket card with common differential diagnoses. These materials have already been translated into many languages and disseminated in over 40 countries, and are designed to support health workers working particularly at primary and community health level.



On average, radiotherapy is recommended for 52% of cancer patients. Amongst low- and middle income countries (LMICs) this figure is likely to be higher due to the prevalence of cervical, head and neck, lung and breast cancers and late stage presentation, however investment in these facilities has been limited by the misconception that it is too complex or costly.

The Global Taskforce on Radiotherapy for Cancer Control, an initiative of the UICC board, set out to dispel this misconception by developing the financial case for improving radiotherapy access. Investing in scaling-up radiotherapy facilities to meet global demand by 2035 will cost around USD 184 billion (on average USD 5 million per centre), but this has the potential to return up to USD 278.1 billion and save 950,000 lives. Moreover, the upfront costs of developing a radiotherapy centre were found to be recouped after 10-15 years, after which point the facility contributes positively to the economy.


Surgery is an essential mode of cancer treatment and is required by over 80% of cancer patients globally, some multiple times. However the capacity to leverage the potential treatment and care benefits has been limited by poor investment in the skills, facilities, systems and adjunct services needed to support cancer surgery.

The 2015 Lancet Oncology Global Cancer Surgery Commission found that a failure to develop cancer surgery is projected to cost high-income countries 1.0-1.5% of the GDP by 2030, and 0.5-1.0% of GDP across LMICs. But, by integrating and strengthening cancer surgery’s role in national cancer control plans, countries could yield this benefit and save lives. 

Essential medicines

The WHO Model List of Essential Medicines (EML) is an internationally recognisable set of selected medicines to help countries choose how to treat their priority health needs. In the 2015 EML update an additional 16 cancer medicines, bringing the total to 46 and enabling the treatment of 26 adult and 10 childhood cancers.  It now also includes a disease-based framework to review and select medicines for national and model EMLs. 


Global Opioid Policy Initiative (GOPI)

The first international survey on the availability of opioids for cancer pain management was led by Nathan Cherny, Israel, Chair of the ESMO Palliative Care Working Group and conducted under the auspices of the ESMO Emerging Countries Committee (previously the ESMO Developing Countries Task Force). 

An international partnership of over 20 organisations worked together to benchmark current standards against international standards set by WHO/International Narcotics Board. The survey results provide evidence of necessary policy reform to improve the management of severe cancer pain and to relieve unnecessary suffering worldwide.

Last update: 
Friday 30 June 2017