137IN - Can we win the war on cancer globally?

Date 30 September 2012
Event ESMO Congress 2012
Session Society session - ESO - Celebrating 30 years of ESO and 50 issues of Cancer World. Cancer 2020: The road to personalized cancer care
Topics Bioethics, Legal, and Economic Issues
Personalised/Precision Medicine
Basic Principles in the Management and Treatment (of cancer)
Presenter Franco Cavalli
Authors F. Cavalli
  • Scientific Director, Oncology Institute of Southern Switzerland, 6500 - Bellinzona/CH


In the last 15 years our understanding of the biology of cancer has increased tremendously and the speed, with which we acquire new knowledge about the basic biology of neoplastic diseases is currently increasing even further. Thanks to the development in the field of translational research, some of this knowledge has been transferred into new and more efficacious treatments. Together with intensified preventive efforts and some improvements as regards early detection, these new treatments have contributed to the relative decline of the overall cancer mortality, which we are currently witnessing at least in the most developed countries. Even here, however, costs of new treatments have reached a level which is no longer sustainable for most of the health care systems. Moreover, on a global scale, the situation looks quite worrysome. Mainly because of an explosion of new cancer cases in low- and middle income countries we are witnessing a rapid increase of the worldwide burden as demonstrated by following numbers: in the year 2000 there were 11 millions new cancer diagnosed and 7 millions cancer deaths. If current trends will continue, in 2030 we will have 27-28 millions new cancer diagnosed and 16-17 millions cancer deaths. Reasons for this evolution and possibilities to tackle this looming disaster will be presented. This situation will be at the centre of the discussions, which will take place in Lugano (26-27 October 2012) at the World Oncology Forum (WOF), which will be organized by ESO with the title “Are we winning the war on cancer?”. Our current hypothesis is that, although we are about to win the battle from a medical and scientific point of view, we might lose the war on a global scale, if we will not be able to implement radical changes in the social/political environment.


The author has declared no conflicts of interest.