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Putting Cancer on the Global Health Agenda | 

Most people who die from cancer, and most cancer cases, are in the developing world.

Cancer cell

Cancer cell              NCI

Yet cancer is seldom included in any discussion about global health.

Some powerful people — from the high-profile health activist Dr. Paul Farmer to the even more high-profile Lance Armstrong (not to mention CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta) — want to change that. They present their case for making cancer a global health priority in an article published online Monday in The Lancet and, more generally, on their web site.

“When you look at the cancer numbers, the global burden of disease, it’s surprising to see how little cancer gets mentioned when people talk about global health,” said Dr. Julie Gralow, a member of this gang of advocates, clinical researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and director of breast medical oncology at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

Julie Gralow and kids in Kampala

by Julie Gralow

Gralow in Kampala, Uganda, where Fred Hutch also works on pediatric cancer

Almost two-thirds of the 7.6 million cancer deaths that occur every year take place in low- and middle-income countries.

Gralow, a renowned breast cancer specialist already active in efforts to improve cancer care and prevention worldwide, got pulled into this specific cause because of a patient — a health policy expert named Felicia Knaul who came to Seattle when her prominent husband, Dr. Julio Frenk, joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to work on global health issues. Continue reading