VIENNA, March 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The Lancet Oncology Commission on Medical Imaging and Nuclear Medicine, launched today during the European Congress of Radiology 2021, presents results from the first-ever comprehensive effort to quantify imaging and nuclear medicine resources worldwide, highlighting dramatic inequalities in access to these resources. It also shows for the first time that scaling up access to imaging and nuclear medicine for cancer patients in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) would yield substantial health and economic benefits, and it calls for an overarching global strategy to address this need.
By 2030, worldwide, annual numbers of new cancer cases and cancer deaths are expected to reach roughly 22 million and 13 million, respectively. Even more concerning, approximately 80% of the disability-adjusted life years lost to cancer are in LMICs, where only about 5% of the global funding for cancer control and care is applied. Imaging is essential to provide timely diagnosis, appropriate treatment selection and planning, and optimal outcomes for patients with cancer.
"The aim of the Commission was to provide data and guidance to catalyze sustainable improvement of medical imaging and nuclear medicine services for cancer management, particularly in LMICs," explains lead Commissioner Dr. Hedvig Hricak from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York/USA.
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Under the Commission, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) led a global effort to collect and collate data on equipment and workforce, with a focus on LMICs through the IAEA Medical Imaging and Nuclear Medicine Global Resources Database (IMAGINE). The effort revealed substantial differences in the numbers of imaging units per million population between high-income and low- and middle-income countries, as well as variations within income groups. It also revealed that availability of a well-trained workforce for imaging and nuclear medicine is a major issue affecting access to and quality of these services. "To date, comprehensive information on appropriate levels of imaging and nuclear medicine facilities and workforce required for cancer care have been limited. The data obtained allows estimates of projected equipment and workforce scale-up requirements for diagnostic imaging in cancer care," says Dr. May Abdel-Wahab, co-first author of the Commission and Director of the IAEA Division of Human Health.