Cancer is an increasingly important health problem in a world in which age expectancy is increasing. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), cancer is projected to become the leading cause of death worldwide, and an increase of 21.6 million new cases per year is foreseen by 2030. The loss of years of life and productivity together with disability from cancer account for the largest economic cost on a global scale, compared to other causes of death including infectious diseases.
Urgent action must be taken to prevent unnecessary deaths and suffering due to cancer and to reduce the great economic burden and social impact of this disease. The Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC) and the Scientific Foundation AECC have launched a global movement to join efforts to promote research in order to improve survival rates and the quality of life of cancer patients. UICC (Union for International Cancer Control), IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer), EACR (European Association for Cancer Research), ESMO (European Society of Medical Oncology), NIH (National Institutes of Health, USA), CRUK (Cancer Research UK), ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology), KWF-DCS (The Dutch Cancer Society) and AIRC (Italian Association for Cancer Research) have endorsed this initiative envisioned in Spain. Moreover, this year the World Cancer Research Day event will be held under the presidency of Her Majesty Queen Letizia of Spain, showing the support of the Spanish Royal Family for the initiative, and with the participation of the co-founder organisations.
This initiative contributes to the goals of the World Cancer Declaration, promoted by UICC to support research on cancer as well as scientific and social development that will contribute to our ultimate goal: to defeat cancer.
As the round table came to an end, Mr. Ignacio Muñoz, AECC’s president, and the President of the Scientific Foundation AECC, Ms. Isabel Oriol, read the World Cancer Declaration for Cancer Research; a declaration that has been endorsed by 28 research centers, hospitals, foundations and Spanish scientific associations together with more than 100 world-recognised cancer researchers. Everyone can join the declaration here.
The declaration has the following goals:
During the roundtable discussion, moderated by the Spanish journalist Rosa Mª Calaf, the co-founder organisations highlighted the importance of promoting research as a key component in the fight against cancer.
This was emphasised by Isabel Mestres, Director of Membership and Business Development at UICC: “Research is fundamental to all areas of cancer control - helping to identify effective, quality and cost effective prevention, screening, treatment and care interventions. This contributes to the better shaping of national cancer policies and in turn, improves the outcomes for cancer patients. WCRD will be a key platform to showcase this and the importance of fostering these capacities in developing countries where the cancer burden is more rapidly increasing and the need is greatest”.
Moreover, during the discussion, key aspects in the fight against cancer were mentioned. One of these aspects is the need for a tight collaboration between clinicians and researchers. Another aspect that was brought up during this roundtable session was the need for coordination between countries and research centers. According to Dr Joan Seoane, Secretary General of the EACR, “scientists understand the huge importance of multidisciplinary international collaboration. The only way to defeat cancer is to join all the forces from different disciplines and countries to focus our fight on the real enemy. Initiatives such as this round table and the World Cancer Research Day help us foster collaboration at a national and international level and the EACR is looking forward to working with all the co-founders towards our shared goal”.
Dr Silvia Franceschi, Special Advisor on Noncommunicable Diseases at IARC stressed “the importance of improving the availability and dissemination of data on cancer occurrence of and strengthening cancer prevention in every country. Effective tools to avoid many cancers exist and are underused. Others may be found through adequate research efforts”.
Dr Roger Glass, Director of the Fogarty Center and Director for International Research NIH remarked the need to promote international cooperation to promote scientific talent. Dr Glass also received the AECC “V de Vida” award on behalf of Dr Francis Collins
The Institutional AECC Ceremony took place after the World Cancer Research Day launch event. During this ceremony, the AECC awarded 34 researchers with nearly 8 million euros to support high quality cancer research and to promote scientific careers.
For further information on the World Declaration for Cancer Research, please visit www.worldcancerresearchday.com.
List of promoting entities
24 September, World Cancer Research Day, commemorates the birth of Spanish researcher Severo Ochoa. Born on 24 September, 1905, in Luarca, Asturias, Severo Ochoa was a leader and promoter of modern molecular biology with his findings on cellular metabolism and the genetic code.
During the molecular biology revolution, Dr Ochoa became interested in the genetic code. In 1953 with the discovery of the structure of the DNA by Dr James Watson and Dr Francis Crick new questions arose in order to understand its function. Dr Ochoa addressed the identification of the mechanism that allowed the translation of a 4 letter-based language characteristic of DNA and RNA to a 20 word vocabulary of the amino acid, which are the units responsible to form the proteins.
In 1959 Dr Severo Ochoa was awarded with the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, shared with his disciple Dr Arthur Kornberg, for his findings on the biological synthesis mechanisms of the ribonucleic acid (RNA) and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Their discoveries led to deciphering the genetic code and the replicative ability of the nucleic acids, the molecules responsible for the hereditary information.
The results obtained by Dr Severo Ochoa have set the grounds for major improvements in molecular biology and genetic code research that have helped develop tools and key knowledge to deciphering the cancer.