Surgery to diagnose cancer

Surgery plays an essential role in the care of cancer patients. Surgery can be diagnostic, curative, palliative, and even preventative and in fact for many cancers, surgery offers the only chance of cure or long-term survival. But surgery is not available to many who need it. This article aims to briefly describe the burden of the problem, the challenges, and avenues for improving cancer surgery in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The incidence of cancer has been on the rise in both high income as well as LMICs. The World Health Organization estimates from 2012 place the global incidence at 14 million patients per year with an expected increase to 21.6 million patients per year by 2030. Much of this increased incidence is expected to be in LMICs that are transitioning to a higher burden of non-communicable diseases as populations age and healthcare improves. In 2015 there were an estimated 8.8 million deaths due to cancer worldwide of which 65% occurred in LMICs. By 2030 it is estimated that about 17.3 million people will need cancer surgery around the world and about 10 million of these will be in LMICs.