* Governments "totally unprepared" for future cancer rates
* Cancer cases seen rising to 26.4 million a year by 2030
* Private-public fund could help poor nations cope
By Kate Kelland, Health and Science Correspondent
AMSTERDAM, Sept 30 The world faces a rapidly
growing burden of cancer which will overwhelm governments unless
the medical and pharma industry takes the lead on a
multi-billion dollar private-public fund, oncologists said on
In a report on how rates of cancer diagnosis and death are
rising across the world while access to diagnosis and treatment
is extremely patchy, experts described the economics of the
problem as daunting and current financing models as broken.
"It is bad to have cancer, and worse to have cancer if you
are poor," said Professor Peter Boyle of France's International
Prevention Research Institute, a lead author on the "State of
Oncology 2013" report.
"Many parts of the world are already unable to cope with the
current situation and are totally unprepared for the future
growth of the cancer problem," he told a briefing during the
European Cancer Congress in Amsterdam.
Boyle, who is also director of the Institute of Global
Public Health at Strathclyde University, cited 2009 estimates by
the Economist Intelligence Unit that it would cost $217 billion
a year to bring cancer diagnosis, care and treatment in poor
countries up to the standards of wealthy nations.
"There's no single source of philanthropy, there's no
government, there's no company, there's no single institution
that can afford that sort of investment," he said.
"The current model of financing is broke. We need to fix it.
We need radical solutions."
According to the International Agency for Research on
Cancer, the disease will kill more than 13.2 million people a
year by 2030, almost double the number in 2008 - and the vast
majority of deaths will be in low- and middle-income countries.
In poorer countries, Boyle said, where equipment, expertise
and medicines for cancer are scarce and sometimes non-existent,
the increasing burden of the disease threatens to cause
"devastating damage to entire families".
Boyle's report projected that with growing and ageing
populations in some of the world's most populous countries, such
as India, China and Nigeria, as well as changing diets and
lifestyles, the number of cases of cancer worldwide would reach
26.4 million a year by 2030 and the annual death toll would head
towards 17 million.
"It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that there is a
need for a major public-private partnership, involving a number
of sources from different areas, to make the necessary progress
with the briefest delay," he said.
He said such a partnership needed the commitment of the drug
companies, as well as industries involved in diagnostic and
treatment technology such as scanning and radiotherapy
Asked how he envisaged such a fund working, Boyle pointed to
the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a
public-private partnership set up in 2002 which has made
impressive progress in tackling epidemics of those three deadly
The Global Fund, which gets most of its money from OECD
governments, this month said it needed another $15 billion to
support its next three years' work.
Yet the funds and commitment needed to tackle cancer would
far outstrip the Global Fund's size, Boyle said, advocating a
new industry-led approach committed not only to giving funds,
but donating knowledge, medicines, equipment and training.
(Editing by Alistair Lyon)