Doctors have revealed that millions of people have died unnecessarily from cancers that could have been treated by radiotherapy.

New data presented at the European Cancer Congress suggest as many as nine out of 10 people in low income countries cannot access radiotherapy treatment.

Experts warn that even high-income countries where facilities exists, there are shortages of equipment and trained staff.

The data has been compiled by a panel of international experts on a new commission set up to increase global access to radiotherapy.

Professor Rifat Atun from Harvard University in Boston in the US, told BBC News: “Our work for this commission clearly shows that not only can this essential service be deployed safely and high-quality treatment delivered in low and middle-income countries, but that scale-up of radiotherapy capacity is a feasible and highly cost-effective investment.”

Therapy is an essential treatment for most cancers, including breast, lung and prostate and, it is estimated that up to 60 per cent of cancer patients will need this form a treatment at some point.

In The Lancet Oncology journal, the commission said improved access to radiotherapy for cancer patients in low and middle-income countries could be achieved by 2030 with an investment of $184bn (£121bn).


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