The Cancer Society of Ghana has pledged its preparedness to work with other partners in the sector to improve quality of cancer data for public health use, increase access to early detection and accurate cancer diagnosis.

It is also ready to partner others to increase access to timely and quality treatment and support palliative care services to people living with cancer.

This was in statement issued and signed by Professor Edwin K. Wiredu, Chairman of the Trustees of the Society and copied the Ghana News Agency on this year’s World Cancer Day celebration, which falls on Sunday, February 4.

The day was set aside by the international community to increase awareness and education on cancer with the slogan “We can. I can”.

This year’s campaign calls for joint efforts between governments, non-governmental organisations and civil society organisations to promote action and investments in areas including tobacco control, promotion of healthy lifestyles, cancer screening and early detection, and improved cancer treatment services, as well as palliative care.

The statement said a study conducted by the Society indicated that there were about 12,700 reported cancer deaths in 2008.

According to the Society breast, cervix, haematopoietic organs, liver, stomach and colorectal cancers are the leading cancer deaths in females in Ghana.

“The top cancers deaths in men are liver, prostate, haematopoietic organs, stomach, pancreas and bladder. The leading causes of cancers deaths in children are malignancies of the haematopoietic system, followed by brain, kidney, eyes, and liver and bone tumours,” it added.

It said studies by Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) indicated that in 2012, worldwide, there were 14.1 million new cancer cases, 8.2 million cancer deaths (with 50 per cent of these being premature deaths), and 32.6 million people living with cancer within five years of diagnosis.

“About 8 million (57 per cent) of the new cancer cases, 5.3 million (65 per cent) of the cancer deaths, and 15.6 million (48 per cent) of the five-year prevalent cancer cases occurred in the less developed regions.

“It is important to stress that the number of cancer deaths is projected to rise to over 14 million per year over the next 10 years.

“The global target is a 25 per cent reduction in premature deaths from cancer and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 2025. This was a target set in 2011 by the World Health Organization (WHO) to cut premature NCD deaths by 25 per cent within 14 years. It is almost 7 years since this target was set by the WHO. To meet this target requires more action than ever to close the inequality in access to prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care,” it said.

The statement said the focus of the UICC in this year’s campaign was to raise awareness about the millions of people world-wide facing unequal access to cancer detection, treatment, and care services.

“An acute example of a global access gap particularly affecting the underserved and underprivileged is access to radiotherapy. As one of the major methods of treatment for cancer, radiotherapy is recommended for 52 per cent of cancer patients. The gap between need and availability is highest in low- to middle income countries; 90 per cent of low- to middle-income country cancer patients lack access to radiotherapy.

“There is an urgent need for support for some forms of chemotherapy. The cost outlay in some cases is close to a death sentence because of huge barriers to access.

“Cancer is recognised as the leading cause of global morbidity. Today, there are an estimated 8.8 million deaths from cancer every year with about 70 per cent of cancer deaths occurring in developing countries which are the most ill-equipped to cope with the cancer burden.

“The starkest area of inequity relates to childhood cancers – a specific group that the WHO underscored in its landmark 2017 Cancer Resolution – with survival rates over 80 per cent in high income countries and as low as 20 per cent in low income countries,” it added.