Infectious Agents & Cancer announces new section on cancer centers in low- and middle-income countries

As low- and middle- income countries (LMICs) continue to face health challenges from infectious disease, they are concurrently challenged by the rising burden of non-communicable diseases including cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) estimates that by 2030, the annual number of new cancer cases worldwide will exceed 21 million and the number of cancer deaths will reach 13 million. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 70% of all cancer deaths occur in LMICs. Changing economics in many countries around the world have meant changes in dietary and behavioral factors, several of which are linked to increased risk for cancers.

According to WHO, as many as 30% of all cancer deaths are attributable to dietary factors, lack of physical activity, and tobacco and alcohol use. In addition, more than 20% of cancers in less developed countries are directly attributable to infectious agents such as Epstein-Barr, human papillomavirus and hepatitis C viruses as well as the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the fraction of infection-related cancers is particularly high at 32.7%. These numbers provide a compelling reason to explore successful strategies for enhancing cancer prevention and control capacity in LMICs. This enhanced capacity includes strategic partnerships, well-trained professionals, appropriate technology, health systems and sustainable funding.

Defined models of collaborative partnerships between a combination of low-, middle- and upper -income country cancer centers may provide a roadmap for improving cancer prevention and control capacity in low-resource settings. The challenges posed by the rising burden of cancer in Africa for instance, has already begun to influence new partnerships and expand previously existing partnerships between institutions globally. Such partnerships can be highly catalytic in enhancing a local center’s ability to deliver cancer care. Easily available data on resources, capacities, priorities and challenges and uniqueness of local centers in LMICs that prevent, diagnose, treat and manage cancers is needed to stimulate further development of successful partnerships. While some collaborations between institutions in high-resource countries and cancer centers, hospitals and universities in lower-resource settings continue to be built and sustained based upon prior historical relationships and/or extension of such partnerships from one disease setting (for example HIV) to cancer, there are likely other equally viable cancer center partners that could benefit from less obvious partnerships. Health systems within LMICs are also burdened by both a critical shortage of health workforce and access to locally-available specialized training that is required for optimal multidisciplinary management of cancer patients. Some of this capacity might be developed more optimally by partnerships between low- and middle-income countries.

In order to make information and lessons-learned about successful cancer centers and the management of cancers in LMICs more broadly available and to help re-invigorate efforts to build partnerships and provide important information for those seeking to replicate successful models, Infectious Agents & Cancer is launching a new section, edited by Edward L. Trimble and Kishor Bhatia entitled “Cancer Centers in Low- and Middle-Income Countries”. We would like to invite you to submit your research or commentary article to the section. The section will provide a platform to showcase detailed features of institutes from LMICs including; activities and resources for prevention, diagnosis, treatment and palliative care (available facilities, health care worker resources, outreach programs, collaborations, research projects, oncology-related training facilities, etc.); funding support from local government, foundations, or privately borne by patients; key features of the cancer center and its partnerships that contribute to its success; challenges, both universal and setting-specific, and how they are addressed; policy and practice implications including discussion of what could be adapted by others, what gaps need to be addressed, and what differences might arise in other settings.

Please submit your manuscript to the section via the online submission system for the journal. Before submitting your manuscript, please read the ‘Instructions for authors’. Please direct any questions regarding journal selection or the series in general to editorial@infectagentscancer.com.

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