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Fred Hutch seeks to make a difference in cancer’s new battleground: the developing world

December 5, 2012

By Dr. Corey Casper, Co-Director of  UCI/Hutchinson Center Cancer Alliance

The lack of resources and quality health care in low- and middle-resource countries has led to more people in the developing world dying of cancer than HIV, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

That’s why Dr. Jackson Orem, director of the Uganda Cancer Institute, and I began a collaborative relationship to research infection-related cancers and to improve cancer care in Uganda and on a global scale.

Prior to that, Jackson was Uganda’s only oncologist in a nation of 34 million people, where a cancer diagnosis historically meant a death sentence.

As part of PRI The World’s series, “Cancer’s New Battleground: The Developing World,” I will be participating in a Facebook chat today at noon PST on PRI’s The World’s Global Cancer Facebook event. You’ll be able to ask me questions in real time or you can join the ongoing Twitter discussion.

Dr. Corey Casper

Dr. Corey Casper

Since six of the 10 most common cancers in the world are caused by infectious diseases, Uganda offered our team an ideal research environment to work, understand, prevent and treat infection-related cancers. Our aim is to save lives on a global scale by developing effective prevention and treatment strategies for infection-related cancers through innovative research.

I’m very proud of what we have accomplished in our Uganda partnership so far. Our focus is not only to support breakthrough research on infectious diseases and cancer, but to improve patients’ access to clinic care and train the next generation of researchers of health care professionals to combat cancers in low-resource settings.

To date, the UCI/Hutchinson Center Cancer Alliance has trained 12 cancer specialists and 134 support staff members, including nurses, pharmacists, research staff, lab technicians, and clinical and administrative staff, and our researchers have conducted 25 studies involving over 7,000 participants. This research has global benefits and will improve knowledge of cancer prevention, diagnostics and biology.

I am incredibly optimistic about the future of our partnership with UCI. The UCI/Hutchinson Center Cancer Alliance’s outpatient clinic and training institute should be completed in 2014, and is expected to dramatically boost survival rates for the most common cancers from 10 percent to 90 percent.

The future of our work in Uganda is focused on eliminating infectious cancer and to research cancer in low-resource settings—principles that can be applied to entire world.

Don’t forget to tune in to PRI’s The World tomorrow to listen to an interview with me about all the above.

Dr. Corey Casper is Co-Director of the UCI/Hutchinson Center Cancer Alliance and the Medical Director of Infection Control for  Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He is also an associate member of Fred Hutchinson’s vaccine and infectious disease, public health sciences and clinical research divisions, and an associate professor of medicine, epidemiology and global health at the University of Washington.

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