Fewer than a quarter of the 15 million people diagnosed with cancer worldwide this year have access to safe and proper surgery, researchers said Monday.
Surgery is the mainstay of cancer control or cure and is required in 80 percent of cases, but over three quarters of patients cannot get it where they live, according to a study published in The Lancet Oncology.
People in low-income countries like Zambia and Mongolia fare the worst, with only five percent of patients receiving basic cancer surgery.
"Surgical services for cancer... are allocated few resources," said Richard Sullivan, who heads the cancer policy institute at King's College London.
"As a result, access to safe, affordable cancer surgical services is dismal."
The authors call for "radical" action to create high-quality training programmes that will equip more doctors and specialists to perform basic cancer surgery, they said in a statement.
In a separate report published Saturday in The Lancet Oncology, researchers found that investing $97-184 billion (87-165 billion euros) in life-saving radiotherapy could save millions of lives.