World Cancer Day: International Solutions for a Global Crisis

Cancer and cancer-related diseases claim the lives of eight million people worldwide each year.  Fourteen million new cases of cancer are diagnosed annually, and more than 60% of those cases occur in low and middle-income countries, where treatment capacities are limited and resources already scarce.

February 4 is World Cancer Day, a day when we shine a spotlight on the global burden of cancer, its victims, and worldwide efforts to improve prevention and treatment outcomes.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), more commonly known for its role in stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons, also supports the fight against cancer by helping countries establish nuclear medicine and radiotherapy facilities, assisting in the development of cancer control strategies, and training health care professionals around the world. 

The United States is proud to be the largest single-country contributor to the IAEA’s efforts to improve human health worldwide. 

“Access to radiotherapy is a crucial component of the fight against cancer, and the United States is proud to support the IAEA’s efforts to ensure everyone can access the treatment they need,” says Nicole Shampaine, Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Mission to the IAEA in Vienna, Austria.

“People are sometimes surprised to hear the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency talking about cancer,” said IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano in a November 2017 speech, but “the IAEA’s cancer control activities have made a real difference to countless individual lives.”

From projects like the first-ever national cancer center in Cambodia opened last month, to specialized training to prepare for the establishment of a new 3D tumor scanning facility in Tanzania, and a new brachytherapy unit in Honduras, the IAEA, with support from the United States, is helping improve access to cancer diagnosis and treatment where it is needed most. 

In Vienna, the IAEA’s dosimetry labs develop and maintain measurement standards, and provide dosimetry calibration services. “What is dosimetry?” you might ask.  Dosimetry is used to determine the necessary dose of radiation for cancer treatment.  Too high a dose can be harmful to the patient; too low a dose will not treat the cancer.  The IAEA helps ensure that patients receive the exact radiation doses they need.

The fight against cancer will not stop after February 4.  The United States looks forward to continuing a strong partnership with the IAEA to advance access to effective cancer diagnosis and therapy in all parts of the globe.