Transforming Cancer Worldwide

Global Oncology

Transforming Cancer Worldwide

Mariam Ndagire, a nurse and case manager at the Uganda Cancer Institute.

Mariam Ndagire, a nurse and case manager at the Uganda Cancer Institute.

Photo by Robert Hood/Fred Hutch

Translating decades of scientific exploration into new prevention and treatment strategies

Cancer is becoming an increasingly urgent global health issue. By 2030, the worldwide cancer burden is projected to grow by nearly 70 percent, with more than two-thirds of cancer deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries. Already, more people in these countries die from cancer than from HIV, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

While these numbers are sobering, work conducted over the past decade by Fred Hutch and others is demonstrating that the cancer burden in these settings can be effectively addressed. Infection-related cancers offer an especially promising target for cancer prevention and treatment efforts. In parts of the developing world, up to 60 percent of cancers are caused by infectious diseases.

Our Success

Among many groundbreaking achievements, Fred Hutch researchers pioneered the technique of bone marrow transplantation to treat cancer. In developing ways to control infections in immune-compromised patients, which is critical to surviving a transplant, we have opened new avenues of research into preventing and treating an array of cancers and other diseases.

Our Approach

Through our pioneering work in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, we are creating high-impact, low-cost diagnostic and treatment tools that have the potential for use throughout the developing world. 

Fred Hutch researchers are engaged in laboratory and population research studies on viral hepatitis, Epstein-Barr virus, HIV and human papillomavirus (HPV), which are among the leading cancer-causing viruses. We were instrumental in discovering the link between HPV and cervical cancer and laying the groundwork for the HPV vaccine, which is 98 percent effective in preventing cervical cancer.  We are also developing cheaper, less toxic and more effective ways to target cancer-causing infections.

Why does Fred Hutch conduct research in other countries?

  • In low- and middle-income countries, cancer kills more people annually than HIV, tuberculosis and malaria combined.
  • The World Health Organization predicts that by 2030, the worldwide cancer burden will grow by nearly 70 percent, with more than two-thirds of cancer deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries.
  • East Africa is one of the most critical places to investigate infection-related cancers—and save thousands of lives—because of the region's high incidence of those cancers.

Why does Fred Hutch implement clinical care in other countries?

  • Many low- and middle-income countries have no national cancer treatment guidelines, supporting the development of treatment protocols is essential.
  • Fred Hutch has an obligation to contribute to improving clinical care and outcomes of the research populations.