Live broadcast of Global Cancer Care symposium, 8 February 2014

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The Global Oncology Initiative is hosting a symposium, Global Cancer Care: Challenges and Opportunities, on Saturday, 8 February, from 8:00 a.m – 6:00 p.m EST.

A live broadcast will be available on the symposium page.

Symposium topics include:

  • Burden of cancer in low- and middle-income countries
  • Barriers to cancer therapies in low-resource settings
  • Innovative solutions to improve access to cancer care

Keynote presenters include:

  • Thomas Gross, MD, PhD, deputy director of science, NCI Center for Global Health
  • Rifat Atun, MBBS, MBA, professor of international health management, Imperial College London
  • Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, professor of global health and social medicine, Harvard Medical School and co-founder, Partners in Health

Online participation is encouraged. Presenters will answer questions submitted electronically or via social media. Questions may be submitted by using Twitter hashtag #askGlobalOnc, or sending email to

Follow Global Oncology on Twitter (@GlobalOnc) and Facebook.

The Global Oncology Initiative is an academic and community-­based organization based in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, leading efforts in global oncology and working to improve cancer care and research in resource-sensitive settings.


Alcohol linked to cancer in eight countries in Western Europe

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Almost one in ten cancers in men and three percent of cancers in women in Western Europe are attributable to former and current alcohol drinking, according to a study conducted in France, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Greece, Germany and Denmark.

The study authors argue that a substantial proportion (40-98 percent) of the alcohol-attributable cancers occurred in individuals who drank more than the recommended guidelines on upper limits of two standard drinks a day in men and one standard drink a day in women. (A standard drink contains about 12 grams of alcohol and is equivalent to a 125 ml-glass of wine or a half-pint of beer.)

The study calculated that in 2008, current and former alcohol consumption by men was responsible for about 57,600 cases of cancer of the upper digestive tract, colorectum and liver in Denmark, Greece, Germany, Italy, Spain and Great Britain. Over half of these cases were caused by drinking more than two alcoholic drinks per day. Alcohol drinking by women in the eight countries caused about 21,500 cases of upper digestive tract, liver, colorectum and breast cancer, of which over 80 percent was due to consumption of more than one drink of beer, wine or spirits per day.

“Our data show that many cancer cases could have been avoided if alcohol consumption is limited to two alcoholic drinks per day in men and one alcoholic drink per day in women, which are the recommendations of many health organisations,” the study said. “And even more cancer cases would be prevented if people reduced their alcohol intake to below recommended guidelines or stopped drinking alcohol at all.”

1. Schütze M, Boeing H, Pischon T, et al. Alcohol attributable burden of incidence of cancer in eight European countries based on results from prospective cohort study. BMJ 2011; 342: d1584. (open access)

Smoking, secondhand smoke linked to breast cancer after menopause

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A study of nearly 80,000 middle-aged women in the U.S. links smoking with an increased risk of breast cancer after menopause. The study also found an association between secondhand smoke and breast cancer among these postmenopausal women.

Compared with women who had never smoked, breast cancer risk was elevated by nine percent among former smokers and by 16 percent among current smokers. Breast cancer risk was significantly higher among chain smokers, as well as those who started smoking in their teenage years. An increased risk of breast cancer persisted for up to 20 years after smoking cessation.

Among women who had never smoked, those with the most extensive exposure to secondhand smoke (10 years or more during childhood, 20 years or more in adulthood at home, and 10 years or more in adulthood at work) had a 32 percent excess risk of breast cancer compared with those who had never been exposed to passive smoking.

1. Luo J, Margolis KL, Wactawski-Wende J, et al. Association of active and passive smoking with risk of breast cancer among postmenopausal women: a prospective cohort study. BMJ 2011; 342: d1016. (open access)

Smoking increases breast cancer risk after menopause

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Postmenopausal women who smoke have up to a 16 percent higher risk of developing breast cancer compared to women who have never smoked, according to a 10-year study of 80,000 women. In addition, the risk of developing breast cancer was elevated by nine percent among women who used to smoke.

The study also finds that postmenopausal women who were exposed extensively to secondhand smoke, either in childhood or as adults, may have a more than 30 percent excess risk of developing breast cancer.

Read more at Suite101.

1. Luo J, Margolis KL, Wactawski-Wende J, et al. Association of active and passive smoking with risk of breast cancer among postmenopausal women: a prospective cohort study. BMJ 2011; 342: d1016. (open access)

Knowledge of HPV, cervical cancer and vaccines among young women in Brazil

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HPV and cervical cancer education is needed for young Brazilian women

Young Brazilian women of low socioeconomic status were found to have low levels of knowledge of human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer development and prevention, according to a study of women age 15-24 years after their first delivery in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Only one third of the women reported having “ever heard about HPV”, despite the fact that the study began 16 days after public news and announcements about the first regulatory approval of one of the HPV vaccines in June 2006, and the fact that the women had relatively high levels of education within the Brazilian context. Only 19 percent and seven percent of the women, respectively, knew that HPV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and that it can cause cervical cancer.

Awareness regarding HPV vaccines was high, with 74 percent of the women mentioning their preventative aspect, and 57 percent of women could identify at least one of the vaccines they had received; that is, they could name the vaccine or the disease which it was intended to prevent.

Despite the possibility to provide a large number of information to mothers during the prenatal and postpartum periods, this group of women had low levels of knowledge of HPV and cervical cancer development and prevention. “Thus, these women could benefit greatly from educational interventions to encourage participation in primary and secondary cervical cancer prevention programs,” the study concluded.

1. Rama CH, Villa LL, Pagliusi S. Awareness and knowledge of HPV, cervical cancer, and vaccines in young women after first delivery in São Paulo, Brazil–a cross-sectional study. BMC Women’s Health 2010; 10: 35. (open access)

Alcohol-related cancer cases and deaths in China

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Despite more than 60 percent of Chinese men and 90 percent of Chinese women reporting no alcohol drinking, a study shows that alcohol consumption accounted for 4.40 percent of cancer deaths and 3.63 percent of cancer cases in China in 2005.

Liver cancer was the main alcohol-related cancer, contributing more than 60 percent of alcohol-related cancers.

“Particular attention needs to be paid to the harm of alcohol as well as its potential benefits when making public health recommendations on alcohol drinking,” according to the study.

1. Liang H, Wang J, Xiao H, et al. Estimation of cancer incidence and mortality attributable to alcohol drinking in china. BMC Public Health 2010; 10: 730. (open access)

HPV infection and cervical cancer in Nigeria

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A study confirms that in Nigeria, as elsewhere, women infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18 are at higher risk of developing invasive cervical cancer than those infected with other high-risk HPV types. Current HPV16/18 vaccines have enormous potential to reduce cervical cancer in Nigeria, the study concluded.

In the general population, 26.3 percent of women were HPV-positive, among whom the prevalence of HPV35 and HPV16 were equally frequent (12 percent). Among those with cervical cancer, however, HPV16 predominated strongly (67.6 percent of HPV-positive cases), with the next most common types being 18 (10.3 percent), 35, 45 and 56 (each 5.9 percent).
Comparing among HPV-positive women only, HPV16 and HPV18 were over-represented in cervical cancer cases versus the general population. Other high-risk HPV types, as well as low-risk and multiple HPV infections were less common in HPV-positive women with cervical cancer than from the general population.

1. Okolo C, Franceschi S, Adewole I, et al. Human papillomavirus infection in women with and without cervical cancer in Ibadan, Nigeria. Infectious Agents and Cancer 2010; 5: 24. (open access)

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