Once thought to be a problem primarily in the developed world, cancer is now a leading cause of death and disability in poorer countries. Almost two-thirds of the 7.6 million cancer deaths in the world occur in low- and middle-income countries.

A paper published in the Lancet asserts that the international community must now discard the notion that cancer is a disease of the rich and instead approach it as a global health priority. This call to action paper is authored by Julio Frenk, dean of the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH); Felicia Knaul, director of the Harvard Global Equity Initiative (HGEI) and HMS associate professor of social medicine; Paul Farmer, chair of the HMS department of global health and social medicine; and Lawrence Shulman, chief medical officer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) and HMS associate professor of medicine at DFCI.

Additional authors comprise 19 other leaders from the global health and cancer communities representing the Global Task Force on Expanded Access to Cancer Care and Control in Developing Countries (GTF.CCC), including honorary co-Presidents Lance Armstrong and HRH Princess Dina Mired of Jordan. GTF.CCC was launched in November of 2009 by HMS, HSPH, HGEI and DFCI.

Link to Lancet abstract