New York City — The American Cancer Society Global Health Programs led the first-ever side event at the United Nations (U.N.) on April 13 to address women’s cancers and NCDs (non-communicable diseases). Participants encouraged U.N. policy makers to prioritize women's cancers at the High-level U.N. Meeting on NCDs in September 2011. NCDs – cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and chronic respiratory disease - represent a global health, economic, and development issue. Their impact on women deepens health and gender inequities between and within countries and have a profound effect on individuals, households, and communities. Women worldwide are affected by, and at risk for, mortality from cancers that are largely preventable and treatable, including cervical and breast cancer.
The meeting marked the release of "Progress in Cervical Cancer Prevention: The CCA Report Card. Cervical Cancer Action." This new report by Cervical Cancer Action, assesses global readiness to fight cervical cancer using new approaches and new technologies, especially in regions where the disease is a common killer. It underscores the urgent need for the global community to prioritize cervical cancer prevention and control on global health and development agendas.
The American Cancer Society collaborated with the Permanent Mission of the Member States of the Caribbean Community, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Malawi, the U.N. Population Fund, PATH and the African Forum of First Ladies against Breast and Cervical Cancer.
CERVICAL CANCER: GLOBAL FACTS TO FILE
• Cervical cancer is central to the emerging cancer pandemic in low- and middle-income countries.
• The number of lives lost to this preventable disease is a global failure of the largest scale given all we know about preventing, detecting, and treating cervical cancer.
• Cervical cancer was the fourth leading cause of cancer death in women worldwide, and the leading cause of cancer death in Africa and Southeast Asia in 2008. That year, cervical cancer caused an estimated 275,100 deaths.
• Ninety percent of these deaths occurred in developing parts of the world, where access to screening and treatment are often non-existent and adolescent girls are not receiving vaccination for the human papilloma virus (HPV), the primary risk factor for cervical cancer.
• The HPV vaccine can prevent up to 70 percent of cervical cancer cases, and cost-effective procedures are available to detect and treat cervical pre-cancer.
To redress the rise in cervical cancer, the Society has spearheaded programs in India, Latin America, Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. The ACS aims to promote public awareness about cervical cancer, educate health professionals, and improve access to screening. Throughout the year, the Society collaborates with PATH and the Cervical Cancer Action Coalition with a shared goal of preventing cancer globally.
BREAST CANCER: GLOBAL FACTS TO FILE
• Breast cancer was the leading cause of cancer death for women worldwide in 2008. That year, 458,400 breast cancer deaths were recorded despite the disease being largely treatable through early detection.
• There were an estimated 1.4 million new breast cancer cases in 2008.
• Breast cancer mortality over the past 25 years has decreased in some North American and European countries due to early detection through mammography and improved treatment; in contrast, mortality rates are climbing in many developing countries given a lack of access to affordable treatment and early detection. Source: Global Cancer Facts & Figures, 2nd edition
One of the ways the American Cancer Society supports women is by developing advocacy and capacity-building in low- and middle-income countries. Latin America is a case in point. Across the region, the Society has partnered with 70 organizations working in breast cancer control. Additionally, the Society launched a Pan-American cancer network and co- founded a regional breast cancer advocacy coalition. In Brazil and Mexico, ACS pioneered a patient navigator program offering valuable information about breast care and treatment.