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Social inequalities and cancer, a new IARC live webinar

19 Jan 2021

Today, cancer incidence and cancer mortality still occur unevenly with systematic variances both between and within countries (WHO Cancer Report 2020). Social inequalities and cancer will be the topic at the centre of the third live webinar as part of the World Cancer Report Updates Learning Platform series, an online platform of WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), developed with the support of and in collaboration with ESMO.

Between 30-50% of all cancers can be prevented by limiting or avoiding cancer risk factors. Yet, eliminating exposure to these factors it is not consistently viable for subgroups of the world population. Data show that due to interlocked factors, people living in lower socioeconomic conditions are more likely to adopt unhealthy behaviours and be exposed to a wider range and higher intensity of cancer risk factors. Also, they are likely to face significant barriers in benefitting from cancer prevention programmes (only 5% of global resources for cancer prevention and control are spent in Low- and Middle- Income Countries) and encounter difficulties in accessing early detection, diagnosis and quality treatment (WHO Report on Cancer 2020). As a result, 70% of cancer deaths occur in the least developed parts of the world (WHO Cancer key facts 2018), though the negative outcomes of inequalities in cancer are also found within sub-populations of the same country.

The webinar, which will take place on 21 January at 18.00 CET, will provide an overview of inequalities and cancer and the impact of these on all citizens worldwide, including those living in affluent countries. Strategies to tackle inequalities in cancer will also be presented.

Today, the socioeconomic conditions in which one grows up can determine how likely a person is to develop cancer and die from it. This is something we must address.

Dr Rosa Giuliani

“Cancer prevention is a key element of public health policy," says Rosa Giuliani, ESMO Public Policy Director. "Prevention policies offer an important opportunity not only to impact cancer incidence, but also to tackle the socioeconomic disparities which are at its very heart. Urgent interventions are required to address work-related exposure to carcinogens, the tobacco epidemic, and vaccinations, just to mention a few topics. Considering that cancer prevention offers the most effective long-term strategy for cancer control, focusing on prevention is even more critical for those countries for which timely access to cancer treatments remains challenging.”

ESMO advocates for equal access to prevention and promotes education on the subject through the ESMO Cancer Prevention Portal and the collaboration with IARC on the World Cancer Report Updates Learning Platform. Inequalities, however, do not stop at cancer prevention but also concern access to cancer treatment. ESMO addresses the issue of access to cancer medicines at European and global policy levels and develops tools and resources that can support countries in achieving sustainable cancer care.

The World Cancer Report Updates Learning Platform offers freely accessible learning material based on selected content from the World Cancer Report, which is the most important resource on cancer prevention published by the IARC every five years. With this joint project with IARC, ESMO is calling on each and every one of its members to take advantage of this resource, to ensure that oncologists become knowledgeable in prevention, are ready to commit to provide guidance and act as role models.

The learning platform is open to all and available for free. It is designed for health professionals, researchers, students, policymakers and anyone interested in cancer prevention. ESMO members can find a dedicated page on the ESMO website to facilitate access to the platform and will be reminded of newly uploaded resources through the Society Newsletter and via the Society’s social media channels.

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