Lancet Oncology Commission Calls for Expanding Global Access to Radiotherapy Millions of lives could be saved with a positive economic impact, report says

SAN ANTONIO, Oct. 20, 2015 /CNW/ -- Increasing access to radiotherapy worldwide through greater investment could save millions of lives, according to The Lancet Oncology Commission's report presented at the 2015 European Cancer Congress in Vienna, Austria, and published in The Lancet Oncology.1 The Commission's results were presented here yesterday at the 2015 annual meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).

The Commission found that up to 60% of all cancer patients worldwide will need radiotherapy at some point in their treatment, but a lack of investment in radiotherapy services has severely limited access to radiotherapy treatments worldwide, especially in low-income and middle-income countries (LMIC).

LMIC have 80% of the global cancer burden but only 5% of the resources for cancer control, and in low-income countries, 90% of the population lack access to radiotherapy. Even in high income countries the numbers of radiotherapy facilities, equipment, and trained staff are inadequate.

Radiotherapy is important for managing most cancers, such as breast, lung, prostate, head and neck, and cervical cancers, which account for more than two-fifths of cases worldwide. In their report, the Commission details how a persistent underinvestment in radiotherapy globally has diminished access, and describes the substantial health and economic benefits of investing in radiotherapy.

With the number of new cancer cases expected to rise to 24.6 million by 2035, the Commission claims that increasing access to radiotherapy services in LMIC by scaling up radiotherapy capacity from current levels could lead to a saving of 27 million life years by 2035, over the lifetime of patients who receive this treatment.

In addition to saving human lives, providing full access to radiotherapy through investment could reduce the economic burden of cancer worldwide, which was $2 trillion in 2010. By 2035, full access to radiotherapy for all patients in LMIC could be achieved for as little as $97 billion, with economic benefits ranging from $278 billion to $365 billion over the next 20 years.

The Commission called for a long-term commitment to cancer care and treatment through the following actions:

  1. 80% of countries should have cancer plans that include radiotherapy by 2020.
  2. By 2025, radiotherapy treatment capacity should be increased by 25% from 2015 capacity.
  3. Each LMIC should have at least once cancer center by 2020.
  4. LMIC should train 7,500 radiation oncologists; 20,000 radiation technologists; and 6,000 medical physicists by 2025.
  5. LMIC should invest $46 billion by 2025 to establish radiotherapy infrastructure and training.
  6. 80% of LMIC should include radiotherapy services as part of their universal health coverage by 2020.

"The Lancet Commission has done an impressive job of demonstrating how increasing access to life-saving radiotherapy treatment makes sense not only for the health and well-being of our world community but economically as well," said Dow R. Wilson, president and CEO of Varian Medical Systems.  "Congratulations on this important study, which will, we hope, lead to cancer programs that can help save lives around the world."

Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR) is the world's leading manufacturer of medical linear accelerators for the treatment of cancer with radiation.  Of the approximately 13,000 medical linear accelerators in use to treat patients around the world, Varian has provided over 7,100 of them.

1Atun R, et al. Expanding global access to radiotherapy. Lancet Oncol. 2015 Sep;16(10):1153-86.

About Varian Medical Systems
Varian Medical Systems, Inc., of Palo Alto, California, focuses energy on saving lives by equipping the world with advanced technology for fighting cancer and for X-ray imaging.  The company is the world's leading manufacturer of medical devices and software for treating cancer and other medical conditions with radiation. The company provides comprehensive solutions for radiotherapy, radiosurgery, proton therapy and brachytherapy. The company supplies informatics software for managing comprehensive cancer clinics, radiotherapy centers and medical oncology practices. Varian is also a premier supplier of X-ray imaging components, including tubes, digital detectors, and image processing software and workstations for use in medical, scientific, and industrial settings, as well as for security and non-destructive testing.  Varian Medical Systems employs approximately 6,900 people who are located at manufacturing sites in North America, Europe, and China and approximately 70 sales and support offices around the world.  For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter.

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