WHO Guide Steers Care for Advanced Cancer Patients

The World Health Organization has released a guide to help caregivers ease the suffering of people who are in the advanced stages of cancer. WHO said the guide is based on consultations with more than 70 leading cancer experts around the world, and it identifies highly effective, low-cost public health models to care for terminally ill cancer patients, especially in developing countries.

"Palliative care: cancer control knowledge into action" was released for Oct. 6's World Hospice and Palliative Care Day. Palliative care includes pain relief and management of symptoms for any patient with a terminal disease, from diagnosis to death. WHO said an estimated 4.8 million people suffering from moderate to severe pain caused by cancer do not receive treatment.

"Everyone has a right to be treated, and die, with dignity. The relief of pain -- physical, emotional, spiritual, and social - is a human right," said Dr. Catherine Le Galès-Camus, WHO's assistant director-general for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health. "Palliative care is an urgent need worldwide for people living with advanced stages of cancer, particularly in developing countries, where a high proportion of people with cancer are diagnosed when treatment is no longer effective."

Of the 58 million deaths worldwide in 2005, 7.6 million were due to cancer, with more than 70 percent of all cancer deaths occurring in developing countries, the agency says. Visit www.who.int/cancer/media/FINAL-PalliativeCareModule.pdf for a PDF version of the guide.

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