What Is a Cancer NGO?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 21 January 2019
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A cancer Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) works in cancer prevention, awareness, treatment, and management without direct government involvement. Such groups are particularly active in the developing world, where cancer advocacy may be limited by funding problems. They typically rely on donations from members of the public and grants from charitable foundations to operate. Working independently of the government can provide some benefits, including the ability to work more quickly because review processes are typically shortened.

The focus of a cancer NGO can depend very much on the organization. Some are involved in direct patient care. They may fund cancer treatment centers as well as providing financial assistance to patients who cannot afford treatment on their own. In addition to helping with treatment, they can provide support and assistance to patients and family members, including financial grants, psychotherapy, and assistance with food and other needs. Patients may be able to access more aggressive and complete care through the assistance of an NGO.


Other organizations may be more interested in research. Instead of treating patients, they may work on cancer prevention as well as the development of new treatments that could improve outcomes. This kind of cancer NGO may be active in rare cancers that do not get very much support from the government due to the need to triage funds. If a condition only affects a limited number of patients a year, it may not be cost-effective for the government to be involved in research, but a cancer NGO could work on it.

Awareness can be another aspect of an NGO’s work. Such groups may stage campaigns to alert people to the early warning signs of cancer, prevention steps they can take, and how to access screening. A cancer NGO can also push for more funding for prevention and treatment of cancer in a given region. Some may work with people affected by work-related cancers, such as people who got sick because of chemicals they were exposed to at a manufacturing plant. They can advocate for better workplace safety while helping people access benefits and treatment.

Employment opportunities at a cancer NGO can be highly varied. Some need doctors, nurses, and other medical staff. Consultants and researchers may also be necessary, along with people who can manage financial matters. Public relations staff may be needed to coordinate campaigns and reach potential donors, while graphic designers and other creative professionals might design brochures, awareness campaigns, and other media for the organization.



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