Photo:Dr. Gilberto Lopes is medical director for international programs and associate director for global oncology at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is part of the University of Miami Health System.
Closing the Cancer Gap Abroad
A new initiative targets treatment and prevention abroad.
As a global oncologist, Dr. Gilberto Lopes has seen the disparities in cancer care between developing and developed countries. While low-income countries account for more than half of the world’s cancer cases, they receive less than 10% of global spending on cancer care, says Lopes, a native of Brazil. “That translates to a much larger mortality ratio,” he says.
In the U.S., for example, two in three patients who are diagnosed with cancer will live beyond five years, he says. In poor countries, however, more than 80% of cancer patients will die early because of a lack of access to screening and treatment.
Lopes has practiced oncology in Brazil, Malaysia and Singapore. Currently, he works in Miami for Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, where he oversees a new initiative to improve cancer prevention and treatment throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Global Oncology Initiative at Sylvester focuses on three areas: Patient care, professional education, and research aimed at developing cost-effective ways to combat the disease. As a first step, Lopes and his colleagues are working to improve information about the impact that cancer is having in terms of incidence and survival rates.
“We’re partnering with physicians in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Brazil and Colombia to help them develop cancer registries,” Lopes says. “By doing that, they should be able to understand a little bit better what type of problem they have.”
Lopes says some of the findings could be used to reduce cancer disparities between rich and poor parts of the U.S. “The idea is that reverse innovation can help,” he says. “There might be a cheaper, easier way to treat cancer that can be applied in the U.S.”
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