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Table of Contents
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 177

Cancer care in the developing world: Is it all that morose?

Department of Oncology, Aster Malabar Institute of Medical Sciences, Kozhikode, Kerala, India

Date of Web Publication17-May-2019

Correspondence Address:
Arun Chandrasekharan
Department of Oncology, Aster Malabar Institute of Medical Sciences, Kozhikode - 673 011, Kerala
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/CRST.CRST_19_18

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How to cite this article:
Chandrasekharan A. Cancer care in the developing world: Is it all that morose?. Cancer Res Stat Treat 2018;1:177

How to cite this URL:
Chandrasekharan A. Cancer care in the developing world: Is it all that morose?. Cancer Res Stat Treat [serial online] 2018 [cited 2020 Jan 20];1:177. Available from: http://www.crstonline.com/text.asp?2018/1/2/177/258537

Philip et al. detail the challenges in cancer management in the developing world in their article based on a survey among young medical oncologists as part of the IDEA mentorship program by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.[1] The findings are not surprising with low staffing ratios and high out-of-pocket expenditures being quite prevalent. Developing countries have populations that are malnourished and also prone to chronic infections with human papilloma viruses (HPV), helicobacter pylori, and hepatitis B and C.[2] These issues add to the burden of cancer care over and above those mentioned in the article.

Potential solutions by the author suggest following the AIDS model and ensuring early diagnosis and availability of medicines. Furthermore, in developing countries, tobacco usage remains rampant and prevention programs may help prevent the development of cancer.[2] Hepatitis B and HPV, common among low- and middle-income countries, may be prevented by vaccination programs and health education.[3]

It is heartening to see the government support for cancer care in majority of the African nations as mentioned in the report and this is slowly being adopted by other countries as well.

The survey was done among respondents in 2015. Now 3 years later, there has been some positive change in the government's attitude toward health. In India, the National Health Policy, 2017 has envisaged increasing public health spending from 1.15% of the gross domestic product currently, to 2.5%.[4]

While the article may paint a gloomy picture, there is still some light at the end of the tunnel. The cost of many cancer therapies is less than that in the developed world with the availability of generics. However, caution must be exercised as concerns regarding the quality of these generics is bound to emerge.[5] Various schemes by the governments have been launched that help ease the burden of cancer costs on low income patients.[6]

The article may have breached just the tip of the iceberg as the respondents were largely from government-funded institutions. The private health-care sector which accounts for 82% of outpatient visits and 58% of inpatient expenditure in India plays an important part in addressing the cancer burden among the urban population.[7] Their contribution to battling the threat of cancer will require a more detailed study involving respondents from the private sector as well. Managing cancer in the developing world is certainly an uphill task, but the hurdles are slowly being surmounted.

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There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Philip CC, Mathew A, Joseph John M. Cancer care: Challenges in the developing world. Cancer Res Stat Treat 2018;1:58.  Back to cited text no. 1
  [Full text]  
Raja BK, Devi VN. Prevalence of tobacco use among school-going adolescents in India: A systematic review of the literature. Cancer Res Stat Treat 2018;1:110-5.  Back to cited text no. 2
  [Full text]  
Jones SB. Cancer in the developing world: A call to action. BMJ 1999;319:505-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
The Hindu Centre. Official Document: National Health Policy 2017. The Hindu Center; 2017. Available from: https://www.thehinducentre.com/resources/article9591909.ece. [Last accessed on 2018 Dec 27].  Back to cited text no. 4
Concerns about Safety of Generic Oncology Drugs Made in Developing Countries – The ASCO Post. Available from: http://www.ascopost.com/News/44104. [Last accessed on 2018 Dec 27].  Back to cited text no. 5
Lahariya C. 'Ayushman Bharat' program and universal health coverage in India. Indian Pediatr 2018;55:495-506.  Back to cited text no. 6
Government of India. Tenth Five Year Plan 2002-07. New Delhi: Indian Planning Commission; 2002.  Back to cited text no. 7


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