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December 2016 Issue: ICEC “Essential News” Letter

The growing trends toward isolationism and xenophobia make efforts of collaboration, person-to-person connectivity and sustainable partnerships such as those of ICEC even more important on a global level. Understanding the issues behind the global trends rather than simple condemnation can be of benefit in helping to improve existing relationships and conditions and to work toward novel approaches that can counterbalance intolerance. Being apolitical and global as well as focusing on cancer that transcends borders, ICEC is in an excellent position to build new models and bridges. As our recent efforts illustrate, we are well on our way to doing just that.

The December issues of the ICEC Essential News Letter of 2016 provides updates from activities over the last five months. Building from a detailed description of the various components and activities in the June 2016 ICEC Essential News Letter (Vol 1, No 2) we provide updates and a progress report. Read the ICEC Essential News Letter…

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Treatment, Not Terror: Strategies to Enhance External Beam Cancer Therapy in Developing Countries While Permanently Reducing the Risk of Radiological Terrorism

Strategies to Enhance External Beam Cancer Therapy in Developing Countries While Permanently Reducing the Risk of Radiological Terrorism 

In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, governments across the globe have shown increased concern that terrorists could gain access to high-activity radiological sources that could be used in dirty bombs. Despite efforts to increase their security and detect/prevent their smuggling, the problem has persisted because these radiological materials are in such widespread use in commercial applications across the globe. As a result, proposals to permanently reduce the risk by replacing the use of these materials with less dangerous alternatives have been gaining traction in the international community.

One of the more challenging cases of replacement is that of substituting cobalt-60 devices in external cancer radiation treatment in poorer countries where cancer treatment is grossly inadequate. This has been the case in Africa, a continent which has also seen a documented rise in terrorist activity. 

On September 1-2, 2015, the Stanley Foundation and the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, with input from experts of the National Cancer Institute’s Radiation Research Program and the University of Witwatersrand, organized a workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa, to discuss ways for policymakers to reduce the threat of radiological terrorism while also trying to improve cancer care in Africa and other developing countries. 

This report presents key themes of the discussion and provides actionable recommendations for the United States, other donor countries, and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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The Time is Now: Solutions to reduce the global cancer burden exist

“If only one effective radiation treatment unit is commissioned every week, it will take a century to solve this problem.”  — Gap projections by the IAEA

Dr. C. Norman Coleman’s and Dr. Bruce D. Minsky’s comment, “The Verdict is in: The Time For Effective Solutions to the Global Cancer Burden is Now,” supports the need assessment and economic analysis by Rifat Atun and colleagues, found in the September issue of The Lancet Oncology.  Coleman and Minsky offer that there are opportunities for innovative technologies to cope with and dramatically improve the challenging infrastructures in low-and middle-income countries as well as with indigenous populations in resource-rich countries. Experts around the world are both available and eager to mentor, train and sustain health care professionals in these areas.   As a society we can no longer ignore this problem; the verdict is in—and the time is NOW.

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The Lancet Oncology: Radiotherapy critical to improving global cancer care

In the September issue of The Lancet Oncology, a team of international experts released data indicating expanding access to radiotherapy is a worth while investment in low income countries. Many of these experts are involved in the International Cancer Expert Corps efforts to reduce mortality and improve the quality of life for people in low- and middle income countries and regions worldwide. Read the summary of The Lancet Oncology article, “Expanding Global Access To Radiotherapy“.

 

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Call to improve radiotherapy access around world

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David Jaffrey, an ICEC Advisory Board member, co-lead this initiative with GTFRCC. The original article below is courtesy of BBC News on September 26th, 2015 and can be viewed here.

Data compiled by a team of international experts to expand global access to radiotherapy will be presented in Vienna at the European Cancer Congress. Radiotherapy is an important element of comprehensive cancer treatment and care for many common cancers, and is essential for effective treatment. Unfortunately, the majority of people in low-income countries have no access to much needed radiotherapy treatment.  Research indicates increasing the accessibility of radiotherapy treatment is possible and a highly cost-effective investment.

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Global Challenges in Radiation Oncology

In the United States, much of the research is focused on developing new and very expensive technologies and drugs – often without a major therapeutic benefit. In resource limited countries, basic oncology care is frequently lacking. In addition, the benefits of various chemo-radiotherapy combinations for a number of malignancies are unknown as these populations have not been adequately investigated.

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The International Cancer Expert Corps: a unique approach for sustainable cancer care in low and lower-middle income countries

The growing burden of non-communicable diseases including cancer in low- and lower middle income countries (LMICs) and in geographic-access limited settings within resource-rich countries requires effective and sustainable solutions.The International Cancer Expert Corps (ICEC) is pioneering a novel global mentorship–partnership model to address workforce capability and capacity within cancer disparities regions built on the requirement for local investment in personnel and infrastructure. Radiation oncology will be a key component given its efficacy for cure even for the advanced stages of disease often encountered and for palliation. The goal for an ICEC Center within these health disparities settings is to develop and retain a high-quality sustainable workforce who can provide the best possible cancer care, conduct research, and become a regional center of excellence. The ICEC Center can also serve as a focal point for economic, social, and healthcare system improvement. ICEC is establishing teams of Experts with expertise to mentor in the broad range of subjects required to establish and sustain cancer care programs. The Hubs are cancer centers or other groups and professional societies in resource-rich settings that will comprise the global infrastructure coordinated by ICEC Central. A transformational tenet of ICEC is that altruistic, human-service activity should be an integral part of a healthcare career.To achieve a critical mass of mentors ICEC is working with three groups: academia, private practice, and senior mentors/retirees. While in-kind support will be important, ICEC seeks support for the career time dedicated to this activity through grants, government support, industry, and philanthropy. Providing care for people with cancer in LMICs has been a recalcitrant problem. The alarming increase in the global burden of cancer in LMICs underscores the urgency and makes this an opportune time fornovel and sustainable solutions to transform cancer care globally.

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