Advocacy Agenda


Multidisciplinary care forms a cornerstone for cancer control, and access to essential surgery, radiotherapy, and essential medicines - both curative and palliative - are critical components. Over the past few years, numerous publications have demonstrated the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of increasing access to safe, affordable and timely cancer treatment across all resource settings.


Surgery is an essential mode of cancer treatment and is required by over 80% of cancer patients globally, some multiple times. However the capacity to leverage the potential treatment and care benefits has been limited by poor investment in the skills, facilities, systems and adjunct services needed to support cancer surgery.

The 2015 Lancet Oncology Global Cancer Surgery Commission found that a failure to develop cancer surgery is projected to cost high-income countries 1.0-1.5% of the GDP by 2030, and 0.5-1.0% of GDP across LMICs. But, by integrating and strengthening cancer surgery’s role in national cancer control plans, countries could yield this benefit and save lives. Find out more about the global cancer surgery commission


On average, radiotherapy is recommended for 52% of cancer patients. Amongst low- and middle income countries (LMICs) this figure is likely to be higher due to the prevalence of cervical, head and neck, lung and breast cancers and late stage presentation, however investment in these facilities has been limited by the misconception that it is too complex or costly.

The Global Taskforce on Radiotherapy for Cancer Control, an initiative of the UICC board, set out to dispel this misconception by developing the financial case for improving radiotherapy access. Investing in scaling-up radiotherapy facilities to meet global demand by 2035 will cost around USD 184 billion (on average USD 5 million per centre), but this has the potential to return up to USD 278.1 billion and save 950,000 lives. Moreover, the upfront costs of developing a radiotherapy centre were found to be recouped after 10-15 years, after which point the facility contributes positively to the economy. Find out more about making the case for investing in radiotherapy.

Essential Medicines

The WHO Model List of Essential Medicines (EML) is an internationally recognisable set of selected medicines to help countries choose how to treat their priority health needs. In the 2015 EML update an additional 16 cancer medicines, bringing the total to 46 and enabling the treatment of 26 adult and 10 childhood cancers.  It now also includes a disease-based framework to review and select medicines for national and model EMLs. Find out more about the WHO Model EML