Developing countries are facing a growing cancer epidemic and expected to see more than two thirds of new cases worldwide over the next 10 years, UN health officials warned on Monday.

Some 84 million people risk dying from cancer over the next decade, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said.

The IAEA, the UN atomic watchdog, is involved in the fight agaist the disease through its Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) division, which shares the organisation's knowledge of radiotherapy techniques with other partners in the field.

PACT head Massud Samiei told journalists that "the cancer epidemic will gather pace in developing countries."

Cancer killed 7.6 million people in 2005, according to WHO statistics, making it the single biggest cause of death, ahead of AIDS, TB and malaria combined.

Samiei said that 70 percent of new cancer cases in the next decade are likely to occur in developing countries, where a lack of training, staff, resources and money mean millions of people do not get the care they need.

In Africa, for example, less than half of the continent's 53 countries offer any form of radiotherapy to cancer patients.

The IAEA estimates that around one billion dollars (680 million euros) will be needed to develop radiotherapy and other forms of treatment in developing countries over the next decade.

However, "being diagnosed with cancer should not equal a death sentence," Samiei said.

Effective monitoring can catch a third of cases before they become a health risk, while prompt and efficient treatment can help heal another third of cases, he added.

GENEVA, Jan 28, 2008 (AFP) -


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