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GLOBAL CANCER INITIATIVES

11 CANCER CONTROL 2021

The strengths of partnerships in

addressing AMR for better cancer care

outcomes

Shalini Jayasekar Zurn, UICC; Sonali Johnson, UICC; Helle Aagaard, ReAct Europe; Carina Alm, Norwegian

Cancer Society; Jon Kirknes, Norwegian Cancer Society and Anna Zorzet, ReAct Europe

O

ne in six deaths is due to cancer (1) and this number

will increase. In order to ensure higher rates of

survival and a better quality of life, effective cancer

control must include raising awareness, effective prevention

strategies, early detection, access to effective treatments

and palliative care. Ensuring access to timely and appropriate

cancer treatment includes access to antimicrobials to address

infections. These are a crucial element in the arsenal of cancer treatment modalities.

Infections in cancer patients are a common occurrence,

making the use of antibiotics can be lifesaving in the treatment

of these patients (2). As many as 1 in 5 cancer patients

undergoing treatment will need antibiotics at some point

(frequently multiple times) during their treatment (3).

Cancer patients are at a higher risk of infections due to the

lowering of immune defences resulting from their treatment, in

HELLE AAGAARD

SHALINI JAYASEKAR ZURN SONALI JOHNSON ANNA ZORZET,

CARINA ALM, JON KIRKNES

Helge's story

• Helge was 21 years when he was diagnosed with Leukaemia.

• Over a 5-year period, he endured several chemotherapy cycles, a stem cell transplant and a lung transplant to

survive.

• Due to the stem cell transplant, he was in isolation and dependent on antibiotics, without which he would never have

been able to receive the necessary treatments that saved his life.

• It was a combination of the cancer treatments and the antibiotics that saved his life.

• He is doing well today and is a strong advocate for addressing antimicrobial resistance.

Source- Norwegian Cancer Society

Matilda's story (name changed)

• Matilda is nine years old and is living with cancer. She was initially treated with a chemotherapy protocol but

relapsed and is now getting more aggressive chemotherapy at the hospital. Matilda is a happy child and surrounded

by her family and friends.

• She is now on antibiotics for an ongoing fever.

• Unfortunately, within a short time, her heart rate starts to increase, and the residents get called. She starts to look

progressively unwell and within 12 hours her blood pressure drops, she has trouble breathing and is taken to the

intensive care unit (ICU), intubated and put on a ventilator. Twelve hours later despite everything the ICU doctors

and nurses try to do she dies.

• The blood culture that was taken at the start of the whole episode shows that it was a gram-negative bacterium

(klebsiella pneumoniae) resistant to most antibiotics including the ones she was taking.

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