The U.N. health agency said Tuesday that it will do more to step up prevention and treatment of cancer in developing countries to help them fight a recent rise in deaths from the disease.
Poorer countries face more cases of cancer as their populations grow older, the World Health Organization said. The number of worldwide annual cancer deaths has risen to nearly seven million compared to about five million ten years ago.
"In a way it is a global cancer epidemic and WHO has taken a stand to accept this as a challenge," said Yasmin Bhurgri, who chaired the first meeting a new cancer committee, which advises WHO chief Lee Jong-wook.
More than three-quarters of annual cancer deaths worldwide are in developing countries, where the number of cases is increasing sharply, partly because people are living longer as these states have more success fighting infectious diseases like AIDS and tuberculosis.
"And these are the unfortunate countries who are unable to deal with this either in a technical manner, nor do they have the resources in any respect, be it financial, or any logistic arrangement for it," Bhurgri said.