It is estimated that there will be over 12 million people diagnosed with cancer this year. Hardly any family
has not been hit by cancer, and when cancer hits it can hit hard. The burden on Society caused by cancer
is immense not only in terms of the human suffering of patients and their relatives and friends, but the cost
of cancer in economic terms. The strain cancer produces on health professionals and health systems is
substantial and growing rapidly.
The World Cancer Report 2008 provides a unique global view of cancer and documents many important
features of the global situation. The global cancer burden doubled in the last thirty years of the twentieth
century, and it is estimated that this will double again between 2000 and 2020 and nearly triple by 2030.
Until recently, cancer was considered a disease of westernised, industrialised countries. Today the
situation has changed dramatically, with the majority of the global cancer burden now found in low- and
medium-resource countries. The greatest impact of this coming increase will fall on the low- and medium-resource
countries, which frequently have a limited health budget and a high background level of
communicable disease. Cancer treatment facilities are not universally available and life-saving therapies
are frequently unavailable.
The rapid increase in the cancer burden represents a real crisis for public health and health systems
worldwide. A major issue for many countries, even among high-resource countries, will be how to find
sufficient funds to treat all cancer patients effectively and provide palliative, supportive and terminal care
for the large numbers of patients, and their relatives, who will be diagnosed in the coming years.
The World Cancer Report 2008 provides a comprehensive overview of cancer for all those working in
the field of health-care and research, and the general reader as well. It presents information on cancer
patterns, diagnosis, causes and prevention concisely, clearly outlining the growing public health crisis.
Simultaneously, there is a clear message of hope: although cancer is a great and growing devastating
disease, it is largely preventable.
Current priorities for global cancer control must include a focus on low- and medium-resource countries
and the identification, delivery and evaluation of effective cancer control measures. Prevention research
is of overwhelming importance. Translational research in its broadest sense is of paramount importance to
cancer control, covering the spectrum from translating cutting-edge scientific discovery into new approaches
to cancer treatment to translating knowledge of cancer risk factors into changes in population behaviour.