BY Faranak Bakhtiari

World Cancer Day: national plans to improve patients’ lives

February 3, 2020 - 18:51

TEHRAN – Iran has developed several national cancer control programs since the Iranian calendar year 1392 (March 2013- March 2014), for reducing prevalence and mortality while improving the quality of patients’ lives, deputy health minister has stated.

Reza Malekzadeh made the remarks on the occasion of World Cancer Day, February 4.

Organized by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), World Cancer Day is an opportunity to rally the international community to end the injustice of preventable suffering from cancer.

The year 2020 marks the midway point of the 3-year ‘I Am and I Will’ campaign, which acknowledges that everyone has the capacity to address the cancer burden. 

The incidence of cancer in men and women in Iran is 163 and 140 per 100,000, respectively, which is below the world average (219 and 183 for men and women), Malekzadeh stated.

In the world and in Iran, cancer prevalence will almost double over the next two decades, which is higher in developing countries than in developed ones, due to increased life expectancy and the aging population, he said.

He went on to add that other reasons contribute to cancer are unhealthy lifestyles and environmental factors, IRNA reported on Monday.

The national cancer control program was developed using the experiences of other countries, in particular, the World Health Organization’s recommendations and the experts’ opinions, he said, explaining, the program sets out the Ministry of Health’s roadmap up to the Iranian calendar year 1404 (March 2025- March 2026).

The purpose of the program is to reduce cancer prevalence and mortality while improving the quality of patients’ lives, which can serve as a model for other countries, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean region, he added.

To determine the infrastructure and manpower needed over the next 6 years, the cancer preparation program was designed which determines the type of centers, equipment, and distribution throughout the country using geographic information system (GIS), he noted.

He went on to say that the result of this program is two important documents, namely, “development of national cancer care network” and “development of cancer human resources”, which resulted in the establishment of the early diagnostic centers.

It also improved Iran's position in terms of coverage, quality, and timeliness by modifying cancer registration processes, conducting numerous workshops and national reports, he highlighted.

Along the way, the national cancer screening system played an important role, which improves the quality of registration by online receiving of pathology centers’ information, he also added.

In addition to producing educational packages and videos to promote public knowledge, the Ministry implemented face-to-face training programs on early cancer prevention and diagnosis for PHC patients, he further said.

Also, every year, on the occasion of World Cancer Day, national and regional plans and campaigns are launched to raise awareness and gain support for cancer control, with the participation of medical universities and NGOs and charities, he explained.

He also noted that one of the most important measures has been to increase the quality of patients’ lives, balance treatment costs, diagnose and treat cancer according to world-class standards. 

To this end, the Ministry, in collaboration with scientific associations and based on the results of questionnaires sent to a panel of experts, developed 12 cancer medicine guidelines, he added.

Malekzadeh further emphasized that insurers report that the use of these guides has reduced medicine consumption by about 10 percent. 

Guidelines have been developed for common cancers such as breast, stomach, colon, lung, and prostate, he said, adding, to improve the quality of services, the "Chemotherapy Service Management Guidelines" were also announced and implemented.

In research and production of effective cancer science, Iran has been the most successful country in the Middle East, North Africa and among the Islamic countries over the past decade, he stated.

The Comprehensive Cancer Registry Program, which covers about 100 percent of the population, is now being published in collaboration with the medical universities with its detailed annual reports, he announced.

Supportive and palliative care is also an important program which holds training courses for general practitioners and nurses has been started, Malekzadeh concluded.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, accounting for an estimated 9.6 million deaths, or one in six deaths, in 2018. Lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach and liver cancer are the most common types of cancer in men, while breast, colorectal, lung, cervical and thyroid cancer are the most common among women.

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