About Cancer

ARCHERY will apply AI radiotherapy planning to three types of cancer with a high burden in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs):

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is caused by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix, which is the opening to the vagina from the womb. The main symptoms are unusual bleeding or discharge and pain during sex. One of the main causes of cervical cancer is persistent infection with high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV). These viruses are very common and can be spread through sexual contact, however, they may not cause symptoms. If the immune system is not able to clear it effectively then the virus may cause changes in cervical cells. Finding changes in the cells through screening can help to prevent cancer developing or diagnose it in the early stages. Effective vaccinations have also been developed that help protect against these high-risk types of HPV. These vaccinations are routinely offered in high-income countries but are not as widely available in LMICs.

Cervical cancer is considered one of the most preventable and treatable cancers. However, over 600,000 people are newly diagnosed with cervical cancer every year worldwide. Over 90% of those diagnosed are in LMICs and over 90% of those that die of the disease (over 340,000) are in LMICs. In addition to other interventions, providing effective radiotherapy treatment quickly will help save and extend the lives of people with cervical cancer.

Read more about cervical cancer via:

World Health Organisation (WHO)

National Cancer Institute (NIH)

Prostate Cancer 

The prostate is a gland which produces the fluid that carries sperm. It is about the size and shape of a walnut and sits underneath the bladder in people assigned male at birth. Prostate cancer can develop when cells in the prostate start to grow in an uncontrolled way. Prostate cancer can develop when cells in the prostate start to grow in an uncontrolled way.

It can be hard to spot as the prostate grows in size with age. In the early stages of cancer, when the cancer is contained within the prostate, there may be no symptoms. Common early symptoms are related to urinating. Signs that the cancer may have spread outside the prostate include pain in the back, hip or pelvis, blood in the urine or semen, and unexplained weight loss. 

Prostate cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the world overall, with over one million cases diagnosed per year. Often prostate cancer grows slowly and may not even require treatment initially. There are multiple effective treatments for prostate cancer. These factors mean survival rates for prostate cancer in high-income countries are high. In the UK, for example, 78% of those diagnosed will survive over 10 years. Rates of both diagnosis and mortality are higher in LMICs.

The most commonly used treatment for prostate cancer is radiotherapy, which is often used in combination with other treatments, such as chemotherapy or surgery. It is hoped that making radiotherapy more accessible and effective will help people with prostate cancer live longer. 

Read more about prostate cancer via:

Cancer Research UK

World Cancer Research Foundation

Head and Neck Cancers

Head and neck cancers are a collective name for many different cancers that occur in these parts of the body. The most common head and neck cancers develop from abnormal changes in a type of cell, called squamous cells. Squamous cells line parts of the head and neck that produce mucus, such as the mouth, throat (called the pharynx) and voice box (called the larynx). Other parts of the head and neck can develop squamous cell cancers, or cancers of other cell types, although these are rarer.

Symptoms of these cancers vary according to the specific location. They may include a lump or sore that will not heal, a sore throat or difficulty swallowing that does not go away and a change in the voice.

Cancers of the head and neck are relatively uncommon in high-income countries. However, in some LMICs, oral cancers are one of the most common cancers diagnosed. It is thought that these differences are linked to the risk factors for these cancers. Tobacco use, particularly chewing tobacco, is the main risk factor, which is more commonly used in LMICs. Another risk factor is oral HPV infection, which is routinely vaccinated against in many high-income countries but is not widely available in some LMICs. Other risk factors include use of alcohol, paan (betel quid), exposure to harmful materials or radiation, and certain Asian ancestry. Malnutrition, weakened immune system and exposure to sun may also contribute to these cancers. 

Treatment may vary according to the specific type of cancer diagnosed. Across all head and neck cancers, the majority of patients will receive radiotherapy as part of their treatment. Limited access to radiotherapy in LMICs therefore has a significant impact on head and neck cancer patients. 

Read more about head and neck cancers via:

National Cancer Institute

Archery is funded by Rising Tide and NIH