SPONSORED FEATURE: SWISS CANCER LEAGUE
speak for themselves: today, 60% of the children with ALL are
treated successfully2. No reliable data was available before the
programme started, but very few children received adequate
treatment then. Thanks to the commitment of AMCA, the
government, as well as the funding from the Swiss Cancer
League and a parents association, the haemato-oncological
department of the La Mascota children's hospital has become
almost self-supporting. One of the lessons learned from this
programme is that it is vital for such programmes to have a long-
term commitment to a comprehensive and holistic strategy. This
approach combines the supply of drugs, training and supervision
of health professionals, and the care of the children as well as
their parents on site1.
Another AMCA project supported by the Swiss Cancer
League since 2008 is the cervical cancer prevention project at
the obstetric hospital Calderón in Managua, Nicaragua. Cervical
cancer is the most common neoplastic disease in women in Latin
America. Worldwide, nearly 500,000 women are diagnosed
with cervical cancer each year. The mortality rate in developing
For its 100-year jubilee, the Swiss Cancer League
countries is about 80%3, whereas most patients in developed
made a special contribution to support the countries get treated successfully. Five years ago, AMCA
renovation of the Calderón hospital
© Eliana e Fabrizio Giacomini, www.FGEdiscovery.com collaborated with the Union for International Cancer Control
(UICC) and the American non-governmental organization PATH
representatives more than 25 years ago. Professor Franco (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health) to launch a
Cavalli, MD is the president of this respected association. More study in Masaya, a town near Managua, comparing different
information can be found at www.amca.ch. Even though the diagnosis methods (PAP-test, HPV-test and visual inspection
association supports projects across Central America, it focuses with Acetic Acid). The Swiss Cancer League supported this
on women and children in Nicaragua. initiative. As a result, the numbers of early cases diagnosed and
The La Mascota twinning programme was set up in 1986 by treated during this period increased dramatically. Again, one
La Mascota children’s hospital in Managua, Nicaragua, and reason for the success of this programme was careful long-term
hospitals in Monza and Milan, Italy, and Bellinzona, Switzerland. planning as well as the development of specific solutions as part
The goal of the programme is to reduce the gap in mortality of a research plan. l
caused by childhood cancer between developed and developing
Masera G et al. Lancet. 1998; 352: 1923-6.
countries. Originally, this programme focused on acute 2.
Cavalli F. Schweizerische Ärztezeitung. 2012; 93: 690-2.
lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) but gradually expanded to 3.
Cavalli F. Nature Clinical Practice Oncology. 2006; 3: 582-3.
include most forms of childhood cancers.
The training of a core group of medical doctors and nurses in
Switzerland and Italy was the first step of the programme. The
first trained team returned to Nicaragua in 1990, and the first
patients were then included in the programme. The cooperation
About the Swiss Cancer League
was part of research project with the aim to adapting and
assessing treatment protocols to the specific conditions in The Swiss Cancer League – founded
Nicaragua1. The Swiss Cancer League became involved in 1996 in 1910 – is a nonprofit organization
at the initiative of its past president Franco Cavalli when the engaged in cancer prevention, the promotion of cancer
programme was opened to new sources of financial support. research and the support for cancer patients and their loved
ones. Located in Bern, the League is the national umbrella
The haemato-oncological department of the La Mascota
organization, which unites 19 cantonal and regional leagues.
children’s hospital now treats 200 new cases of childhood
The League is primarily financed by donations and is certified
cancer patients each year. The site consists of two divisions with with the ZEWO quality label. www.swisscancer.ch
15 beds in each, as well as two outpatient clinics. The numbers
134 CANCER CONTROL 2013