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4 February 2013 | Vienna, Austria
World Cancer Day

Statement at World Cancer Day

by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano

Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I welcome you all to this IAEA event marking World Cancer Day 2013.

I am very pleased that we have with us today Professor Kutluk, President-Elect of the Union of International Cancer Control, which initiated World Cancer Day.

I also welcome the distinguished Ambassador of Sudan, H.E. Mr. Mahmoud Hassan El Amin, and Dr. Munki Lee, Minister, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea, as well as our own Medical Director Dr. Matthias Lademann.

Many events are being held around the world today to draw attention to cancer.

This year, there is a special focus on dispelling common misconceptions about the disease.

One of the most persistent myths about cancer is that it is mainly a disease of wealthy countries. In fact, around 70 percent of cancer deaths occur in developing countries.

Another myth is that cancer is invariably a death sentence. In reality, many cancers respond well to treatment and can even be cured.

Thanks to early detection and modern treatment methods, millions of men and women now live normal lives for many decades after diagnosis. Often, they die in old age of something other than cancer.

Here in Austria, as in all developed countries, we take access to radiotherapy for granted.

But the picture is very different in developing countries. It is estimated that there is a shortage of around 5 000 radiotherapy machines in developing countries.

That means that millions of people, in Africa and elsewhere, have no access to diagnostic services or treatment. Too many die of conditions that are actually treatable.

That is an immense human tragedy.

The IAEA Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy - PACT - has been working hard to try to make radiotherapy services available in all countries.

Through our Technical Cooperation programme, we are supporting over 130 projects in cancer diagnosis, management and treatment.

We help countries to establish oncology and radiotherapy centres. We provide extensive training for medical and technical staff.

The IAEA has delivered cancer-related assistance totalling over 260 million US dollars to developing countries in the past three decades.

The Agency's work in cancer control will always be a high priority for me as Director General.

Several months ago, I announced plans to expand our cancer activities by establishing a Cancer Training Centre at our laboratory complex near Vienna. This will provide specialist training for health professionals from Member States.

I mention the new Centre whenever I meet world leaders and ask for their support. The response has been very positive. Everyone knows someone who has had cancer. I am confident that the new IAEA Cancer Training Centre will open its doors within a few years.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to end by expressing my gratitude to all our donors and partners for their support for the Agency's work in cancer control.

And I thank all of you for demonstrating your support through your presence here today.