Once cancer is diagnosed, appropriate treatment is not available to many in less developed countries, resulting in substantially higher case-fatality rates. Many of the most efficacious chemotherapy drugs are off-patent and relatively inexpensive; other modalities such as radiation can be offered at low cost per patient once a facility has been built and staff trained to use it. It is estimated that 80% of patients in the world have no access to opiates at the end of life, a situation that could be remedied at low cost if international treaties that limit opiate export, as well as concerns about their abuse, could be addressed.
As for other non-communicable diseases, a broad range of actions need to be taken to prevent, detect, and treat cancers as incidence rates of many cancers increase and absolute rates increase faster because of the aging of populations around the world. Fortunately, several non-communicable diseases share similar risk factors, particularly tobacco use and sedentary lifestyles/obesity; hence, efforts to limit the spread of these risk factors may be important in the control of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and respiratory diseases, as well as cancer. Access to even low-cost treatments requires major investments in health systems, but without these investments the human and economic costs of cancer will be greater still.