Paul Lachine

¿Trópicos de Cáncer?

STANFORD – Muchas veces se piensa que el cáncer es una enfermedad de los países más ricos, pero es una causa importante de morbilidad y mortalidad también en los países más pobres. De hecho, para fines de esta década, aproximadamente 150 millones de personas en todo el mundo tendrán cáncer y cerca del 60% de ellas residirá en países en desarrollo.

Si bien es menos la gente en los países en desarrollo que vive hasta la edad en que el cáncer es más prevaleciente, una mala alimentación y exposiciones ambientales a virus y toxinas, sumadas a una escasez de opciones de diagnóstico y tratamiento, aumentan la incidencia y la letalidad del cáncer. Mucha gente en los países pobres se muere de tipos de cáncer que son prevenibles y tratables en las sociedades más ricas, pero también suelen sucumbir a otros flagelos, como las enfermedades infecciosas.  ¿Qué se podría y se debería hacer, entonces, frente a este dilema?

Margaret Chan, directora de la Organización Mundial de la Salud, y Yuyika Amano, director de la Agencia Internacional de Energía Atómica (AIEA), destacaron en un artículo reciente que los sistemas de salud de la mayoría de los países en desarrollo están mejor diseñados para tratar enfermedades infeccionas que cáncer. Opino que se trata de una estrategia racional, dada la cantidad de muertes relacionadas con infecciones, y que muchas de esas enfermedades se pueden prevenir y tratar a un costo relativamente bajo.

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