F'ville resident attends premier global summit

Lance Armstrong's invitation-only cancer campaign held in Dublin

Fayetteville resident Timothy Dye recently spent two days in Dublin, Ireland as one of Lance Armstrong's guests in the invitation-only landmark event of Armstrong's Livestrong Global Cancer Campaign, held Aug. 24 to 26.

Dye's invitation to the summit reflects his status as a leading researcher on the disease, especially as it relates to the stigma of cancer in developing countries. He is a professor of public health and preventive medicine at Upstate Medical University.

"I'll be working with a wide variety of global leaders and cancer advocates strategizing on how best to develop capacity in developing countries, largely in Africa and Asia, to diagnose and treat cancer," Dye said.

There are a number of issues he hopes the summit will help accomplish, including an increased collaboration between institutions, identifying opportunities to help improve cancer care in developing countries and promoting cross-cultural interaction in addressing medical problems.

"I'm especially interested in the role that academic institutions have in promoting training of health workers in developing countries and in working with African and Asian universities to provide access to cancer diagnosis and treatment," Dye said.

Currently, Dye is studying a variety of aspects of cancer, ranging from how to help build local health systems for detection and treatment of specific types of cancer, to how cancer and its treatments are viewed in different cultures.

While doing work in Ethiopia, Dye found the stigma of breast cancer for women is such that they may be chased away from their village or "kicked out of their family."

"People anywhere need to see other people who have survived and thrive after cancer, as most people do survive," Dye said. "The longer people wait and the later their cancer is detected, the more difficulty they'll likely have. In many developing countries, no one has early diagnosis so virtually everyone with cancer dies, so it's logical that people see it as a disease that leads to certain death. People don't understand how you develop cancer and think it's contagious, so often shun those who have it, especially as things get worse medically."

Dye said he believes creating a situation where cancer screening and treatment are considered "normal" would help reduce stigma.

"In many countries you can get care and drugs if you have HIV/AIDS or malaria or tuberculosis, but nothing if you have cancer," he said.

According to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, cancer kills more people every year than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Currently, it's estimated that 28 million people are living with cancer around the globe, and that cancer will be the leading cause of death worldwide in 2010.

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