World Cancer Leaders’ Summit 2015
UICC: Importance of collaboration in cancer care
Prof Tezer Kutluk - President, Union for International Cancer Control
You are President of the Union of International Cancer Control, also the immediate past President of the Turkish Society. Now, we’ve been hearing really good things about Turkey in the fight against cancer. What have you been doing recently that’s so successful? I know you’ve got a book on your lap.
Yes, the Turkish Association for Cancer Research and Control is the oldest cancer society in Turkey, founded in 1947. We have many things done by my society in the last sixty years as the first thing in Turkey but this time we translated the Cancer Atlas to Turkish, translated into nine different languages. It’s a book written by the American Cancer Society, CDC and IARC; it is a very good source about Atlas from basic levels to advanced levels so I am happy to be a part of that translation.
And Turkey has taken some good steps towards cancer care so you’ve got things to discuss here about collaboration and collaboration is the theme of this summit meeting on cancer care here in Istanbul. Why is collaboration so important internationally, do you think?
We intentionally chose that subject because it is a good time to encourage governments, NGOs and all stakeholders to collaborate around one common purpose. The reason is in 2011 the United Nations came with a resolution on non-communicable diseases; in 2013 the WHO came with a plan of nine targets. Then this year in September now we have new sustainable development goals. We definitely believe that it is a good time for all governments, all stakeholders, NGOs, academia, every person, every organisation, to unite around one common purpose, to implement the policies and rules, decisions at the global level.
Now the big question is if you want to make the sustainable development goals work you do need implementation that actually can work. What do you propose, how do you make these things happen?
Regarding cancer, all nations must have a good cancer control plan. I’m not talking about the written cancer control plan, I’m talking about a written cancer plan which is ready and which is used for the implementation. So it is now time for governments to implement those cancer control plans.
Which should include what?
Which should include all the strategies and how are we going to use the resources and which way we can control cancer, the methodology, the resources, the directions, strategic direction, that’s the cancer control plan.
What are the key cancer control strategies that you personally would like to see implemented in many countries?
It is a comprehensive issue, it starts with prevention and the screening but it’s not only the prevention and screening but it is also the treatment because treatment success is increasing and increasing in all cancers – in childhood cancers now it went up to more than 80%. It was almost 70% survival rate in adult cancers but because of the inequities around the world there are still many countries that have survival rates as low as 10-20%. So access to best care is also another issue. So the cancer control strategies must have strategies from prevention to treatment to palliation, all elements of the cancer care.
So what do you want individual doctors, individual members of the community, to be thinking about doing then?
Individual doctors, personally they should be aware that we can control cancer. They should regulate their own lifestyle. They should also, as the leaders in the community, they should advise their environment to the patients but not only the patients, all the organisations that they are working. They should be a part of the policy making otherwise individual actions are very limited to make changes happen. So we want all leaders to be active on advocacy and policy making.
And governments need to take action but how do they do that and is it all down to the government? What needs to happen?
Governments, we know which legislation is needed and we are aware there is some need for investment. But governments decide on the policies, the right policies must be accepted or whatever in their cancer control plan. It should be open for the use of all government level offices and they have to allocate resources and they have to implement it and not only implementation but also they have to follow up and they have to evaluate the success of the programme – are they on the right way or the wrong way?
So what’s the bottom line coming out of all of this, very briefly?
The bottom line is the world knows how to end the cancer issue, now it is time for all of us to collaborate effectively at a national level, regional level and global level. By doing this in a quick period, in a short time we would be able to prevent at least four million deaths of eight million deaths on a yearly basis.