UICC Offers Recommendations in Preparation for World Cancer Day 2024
The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) has provided a new set of recommendations to eliminate inequities in cancer care in light of World Cancer Day on February 4, according to the new World Cancer Day 2024 Equity Report.
Since its establishment in 2000, World Cancer Day has become one of the largest health awareness days of the year.
The UICC revealed that 2024 will mark the final year of the Close the Care Gap campaign—an initiative highlighting global barriers related to the accessibility of essential cancer care services.
“For people with low socioeconomic status, the risk of dying from cancer is generally notably higher compared [with] those who belong to more privileged groups. People with higher education generally spend more time with health-care professionals to ask questions when seeking care than those with only primary school education, who are more likely to refrain from care-seeking in the first place. Socioeconomic status can also influence the degree to which a patient [with cancer] is likely to follow through on treatment,” explained Ulrika Årehed Kågström, BSc, Secretary-General of the Swedish Cancer Society and President-Elect of the UICC.
Findings From the New Report
In the new report, the UICC used local perspectives as well as insights from cancer experts around the world—including from Australia, Brazil, China, Hong Kong, Kenya, Lebanon, Japan, Jordan, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey, and the United Kingdom—to determine novel strategies that may reduce inequities in cancer care. Although the new report included methods tailored to specific countries or regions, the UICC also supplied nine general recommendations that governments can use to bridge the cancer care gap.
Among the recommendations, the UICC emphasized the significance of fostering patient-centered care focused on the unique needs of all patient populations. They encouraged patients to engage in their cancer care decision-making processes. The UICC advocated for an increase in cancer research funding and encouraged collaboration among researchers, health-care providers, and community organizations to better understand and address inequities in cancer care.
The UICC suggested that a population-based registry should be established to help guide policy decisions and resource allocation as well as evaluate control strategies, that national health benefit packages should incorporate comprehensive cancer services to achieve universal health coverage, and that routine screenings for common types of cancers should be integrated into existing health-care programs. Telemedicine services and mobile units may also be used to reach more remote patient populations to detect and treat cancer earlier and reduce health-care costs.
“Technology is key to closing the [cancer] care gap—including digital tools to enhance reporting and analytics as well as telemedicine and remote patient monitoring, which make it easier for patients living in rural areas to access care,” noted Anil D’Cruz, MS, DNB, FRCS (Hon), Director of Oncology at Apollo Hospitals in India and Immediate Past President of the UICC.
Additionally, the implementation of national cancer strategies supported by evidence-based assessments of the countrywide cancer burden may decrease financial hardships and barriers to care faced by underserved patient populations. The use of culturally appropriate materials and communication training for health-care providers may further enhance health literacy and cancer education.
Governments were advised to regulate the production, sales, and marketing of carcinogenic products such as tobacco, alcohol, and ultra-processed foods through increased taxation, marketing limitations, improved product labelling, and public education campaigns. The UICC proposed that 30% to 50% of cancer cases may be prevented by targeting modifiable risk behaviors. Confronting prejudices and assumptions based on diverse social markers may help address the systemic social determinants of health impeding patients’ abilities to access cancer care.
To recognize the end of the Close the Care Gap campaign, the UICC has mobilized a global call to action to boost support for the recommendations included in the World Cancer Day 2024 Equity Report—urging national cancer organizations and individuals around the world to advocate for equitable health care by contacting their respective health ministries and departments. The UICC also plans to send a letter to all state and government leaders through its missions in Geneva, inviting them to take advantage of the opportunities presented by World Cancer Day to make a public commitment aimed at improving equity in health and cancer care in their nations. On past World Cancer Days, such actions have served as pivotal moments for positive change.
“[The] UICC’s World Cancer Day 2024 Equity Report shines a light on … significant disparities in [cancer care and] outcomes [caused by] prejudices and assumptions based on socioeconomic status, gender, … cultural norms, race and ethnicity, age, geographical location, sexual orientation, and disability,” underscored Jeff Dunn, AO, President of the UICC. “More importantly, it provides local insights into the challenges we face in diverse regions, guiding us toward targeted solutions,” he concluded.
For full findings from the World Cancer Day 2024 Equity Report, visit uicc.org.The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.