Confronting a Top Killer: The Cancer Threat

4. Support Nongovernmental Organizations' efforts to build advocacy and resources, help survivors and reduce suffering throughout the world.

We have learned here in the United States and elsewhere that power comes from within. We need to take the lessons we have learned, and help others to help themselves in a manner consistent with their own cultures. We need to encourage governments and companies throughout the world to recognize that they have the ability to influence the cancer burden in their own countries. They are far from powerless if they decide to address the issues.

5. Promote culturally sensitive risk reduction and education campaigns.

People throughout the world can get the message, and they can do something to help control their fate. We have believed, and we have accomplished. So can people everywhere, through advocacy and raising awareness among the public, governments, civil society and the private sector.

6. Invest in cancer research and expand access to prevention and early detection measures.

Infrastructure is a "hot topic" these days. There is a cancer research infrastructure as well, and that infrastructure is at risk of decaying because of research funding that has been flat or cut. We also need to make certain that every person in this country has access to prevention, early detection and effective treatment for cancer. Now is the time to make certain that everyone can get access to what we already know works. The impact would be astounding.

So, as we gather here in Atlanta, the message will be one of alarm and concern. But it will also be one of hope.

We have accomplished a great deal in this country attacking the burden of cancer. We could do much more. We can also work with our colleagues around the globe to help people and nations to understand that they too can do more.

They can do more to prevent cancer, especially through controlling the tobacco epidemic before it grips their nations. They can do more to get cancer-preventing vaccines to their people who are suffering the impact of cancers that we in the United States and other developed nations have done much to prevent and control. And they can get the attention of governments and corporations in this increasingly flattening world to pay attention to the human "bottom line" as well as the financial bottom line.

Let's hope that the power of these very special and committed organizations coming together in recognition of this global epidemic is the start of a special journey that we will look back on with pride in the years to come.

Len Lichtenfeld is deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. You can view the full blog by clicking here.

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