World Cancer Day is Saturday, Feb. 4. It’s the one singular initiative under which the entire world unites to fight cancer through prevention, improved patient care, outreach, education and more.
Organized by the Union for International Cancer Control, World Cancer Day strives to prevent millions of deaths each year by promoting cancer awareness, and by energizing governments and individuals across the world to take action against the disease.
This goal aligns seamlessly with MD Anderson’s mission of Making Cancer History by eliminating cancer worldwide, says Oliver Bogler, Ph.D., MD Anderson’s senior vice president for academic affairs.
Bogler heads the institution’s Global Academic Programs, or GAP, which manages MD Anderson’s Sister Institution Network. The network is made up of 32 premier academic cancer institutions in 23 countries. Together, they conduct research, education and clinical outreach initiatives designed to eliminate cancer.
Today the sister institutions are preparing for what the World Health Organization (WHO) describes as a coming “tidal wave of cancer cases.” Currently, 15 million cancer cases are diagnosed each year worldwide. That number will increase to 24 million cases a year by 2035. The greatest cancer increase is projected to hit low- and middle-income countries, those least equipped to cope with the social and economic impact of the disease.
“MD Anderson’s international presence will help ease this burden,” Bogler says.
Efforts in Latin America and Africa
With the WHO reporting that 60% of the world’s total new cancer cases each year occur in Africa, Asia and Central and South America, MD Anderson is focusing heavily on these countries.
In Latin America, for example, the cancer center is partnering with the Instituto di Cancerologia in Colombia and the Instituto Nacional de Cancerología in Mexico to deliver an anti-tobacco health education program to adolescents. Led by the cancer prevention and control platform of MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program™, the program soon will be introduced in Europe and Asia.
In sub-Saharan Africa, where deaths from cervical and breast cancer are disproportionately high compared to high-income countries, MD Anderson is providing support to health care providers. Through its Africa Initiative, MD Anderson is working to improve cancer care throughout the continent by fostering collaborations with African hospitals, clinics and medical schools. A multi-disciplinary “Africa Committee” composed of MD Anderson faculty members provides guidance and plans activities to educate and train health care professionals in Africa. Training takes place in person and also via a tele-mentoring program called Project ECHO, which uses Skype-like videoconferencing.
The Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon organization, an independent affiliate of the George W. Bush Institute designed to reduce deaths caused by cervical and breast cancers among women in developing countries, guides the Africa Initiative in addressing those diseases in Zambia, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Mozambique.
These are but a few of MD Anderson’s many global outreach efforts.
“By sharing knowledge and best practices, MD Anderson and health care organizations around the world are one step closer to eliminating cancer,” says MD Anderson President Ronald DePinho, M.D. “The world is counting on us. Together, we will end cancer.”