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Cancer patient receiving chemotherapy
Photo by Rhoda Baer

The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) have called for renewed political commitment to improve cancer services and reduce cancer deaths.

ASCO and ESMO issued a joint statement in which they asked heads of state and health ministers to attend the United Nations Civil Society Hearing on Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) in September and reconfirm their commitment to “pass legislation and invest in actions that will reduce the burden of NCDs, including cancer.”

Specifically, ESMO and ASCO said governments should:

  1. Implement the 2017 World Health Assembly Cancer Resolution
  2. Develop and strengthen educational programs that provide lifestyle recommendations to reduce cancer risk (eg, prevent tobacco use, encourage healthy weight control, etc.)
  3. Develop efficient and cost-effective primary prevention measures (eg, Helicobacter pylori eradication)
  4. Ensure timely access to screening, early stage diagnosis, and treatment for all stages of cancer
  5. Strengthen health systems so they can provide cancer services to all who need them
  6. Provide essential secondary healthcare services that ensure an adequate number of well-trained oncology professionals who have access to necessary resources
  7. Aim to reduce premature mortality by 25% by 2025 and by 33% by 2030 across all NCDs.

“Recent UN and WHO reports1,2,3,4 note that, unless countries significantly scale-up their actions and investments, they will not meet agreed targets to reduce deaths from non-communicable diseases,” said ESMO President Josep Tabernero, MD, PhD.

“We are concerned that governments may find it easier to achieve their targets by reducing deaths from only some NCDs, leaving cancer patients behind. We believe there are cost-effective ways to improve cancer care and stand ready to assist countries in doing this by providing our expertise in cancer management to support implementation of the 2017 World Health Assembly Cancer Resolution.”

“We urge member states to consider our joint call and amendments to strengthen the political declaration to be approved during the UN high-level meeting on 27 September and thus change the future outlook for cancer patients worldwide.”

1. United Nations Report by the Secretary General, Document A_72_662, 21 December 2017:

2. World Health Assembly Report by the WHO Director General, Document WHA 71.2, 26 May 2018:

3. WHO Independent High-Level Commission on NCDs Report, Time to Deliver, 1 June 2018:

4. WHO Report Saving Lives, Spending Less, 21 May 2018:

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