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Monday, 12 February, 2001, 00:09 GMT
'Lift cancer taboos'
Tumour in the breast
Breast cancer should be more openly discussed
Taboos that stop people speaking about their cancers must be swept away if the disease is ever to be tackled.

A global cancer summit in Paris has heard that in certain countries cancer is a taboo, which must never be mentioned.

Frances Visio, chairman of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, which helps American sufferers, said this taboo must be broken.

"Cancer is something that must be discussed, we must get it out in the open," she urged.

Speaking at the one-day summit at the headquarters of the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), in Paris, she said education levels must be improved if the killer disease is to be beaten.

Delegates also hope to encourage the implementation of a "Charter of Paris against Cancer" produced at an initial summit last February.

Cancer is something that must be discussed, we must get it out in the open

Frances Visco, chairman of the National Breast Cancer Coalition
This called for more research funding and for better treatment for patients.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts that the number of new cancer cases reported each year will have risen to 20 million by 2020 - the current rate is nine million.

It also predicts that death rates will rise from five million to 10 million.

Lung cancer

Lung cancer is currently the most common and most deadly cancer.

The cancer summit also heard fears that out of the five million cancer deaths each year, lung cancer is to blame for 921,000 deaths - more than breast cancer, colon and prostate cancer combined.

Experts have said that tougher laws to limit tobacco advertising and a rise in cigarette prices would discourage smoking and that this would in turn lead to a cut in cancer deaths.

Derek Yach, general director of non-transmittable diseases and mental health at WHO, said political parties had a successful weapon in their power.

"We can turn off the taps of tobacco-related death and disease with political will," he said.

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