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Some 300 delegates from more than 30 countries with one goal – joining in the global fight against cancer.
The Toronto Global Cancer Control Conference, co-hosted by UHN's Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and the University of Toronto (U of T) Dalla Lana School of Public Health, will run from today through Saturday and feature an all-star line-up of international leaders in cancer care and global health.
On the agenda are a wide range of topics from opportunities to accelerate progress in cancer control and clinical delivery, to research and innovation, healthcare economics and narrowing the gap in diagnosis, treatment and survival rates between cancer patients in high-income, and low and middle-income countries (LMICs).
"Knowledge is produced globally, not just locally," says Dr. Mary Gospodarowicz, Medical Director at the Princess Margaret and a conference co-chair along with Dr. Prabhat Jha, an Endowed Professor in Global Health and Epidemiology at the U of T and Canada Research Chair at the Dalla Lana School.
"Bringing together major players in global cancer care and learning about what they are doing and what they are discussing offers us access to more possible solutions for our challenges," Dr. Gospodarowicz says. "It's too narrow to say we can fix everything here ourselves, because if so, we would have by now."
Dr. Jha, who is also founding Director of the Centre for Global Health Research, which is co-sponsored by St. Michael's Hospital and the U of T, says one of the key themes of the conference will be recognition that "there's a big global problem" in the rising death tolls from cancer. In high-income countries, two-thirds of those diagnosed with cancer survive their diagnosis. In LMICs, only one-third do.
Not only is there a need to increase survival rates in developing countries through cost-effective diagnosis and more accessible treatment, says Dr. Jha, but also to make advances in cancer therapies more affordable to bridge the "cancer divide" that exists in all healthcare systems, including Canada's.
"There is concern about a widening cancer divide because new therapies will not necessarily be accessible, even in places like Canada," he says. "That situation is amplified in developing countries."
Among the internationally-renowned keynote speakers at the conference are:
The subtitle of the conference is "Creating the Future" and organizers have asked each speaker to discuss potential solutions in their areas of expertise. It's also hoped that the event will help engage students and young faculty members in the global cancer agenda.
"At the Princess Margaret, we want to be one of the best cancer centres in the world," says Dr. Gospodarowicz. "We understand being that without global engagement is not possible."