PARIS -- Cancer experts mapped out a strategy at the first World Summit Against Cancer on Thursday to provide the best treatment for patients, guarantee their human rights and eradicate the stigma surrounding the disease.

Dr. Gabriel Hortobagyi, of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, one of the key organizers of the two-day conference said new treatments are not available to the majority of cancer patients around the world and more needs to be done to curb the disease that kills 6 million people each year."Innovations are not available to the majority of cancer patients," he told hundreds of scientists, government officials, patients and advocacy groups at the conference in the Hotel de Ville.

"The results of investment have been ineffectively used and unevenly applied.

By mobilizing international efforts and investments and coordinating a global approach to cancer, the summit aims to improve the care of cancer patients worldwide.

"We decided this was an urgent problem that could not wait until the cancer burden doubled in the next 20 years," said Hortobagyi.

By 2020, experts predict, cancer will overtake heart disease as the leading cause of death and will claim 10 million people each year. As developing countries increasingly adopt Western diets and habits such as smoking, much of the burden of the disease will shift to countries that can least afford to deal with it.

In the next two decades, 70 percent of cancer patients will live in countries that will have less than 5 percent of the resources for cancer control among them. Even in developed countries, roughly 50 percent of cancer patients still die of the disease.

Much of the problem that has hampered progress in treatment and research has been the stigma and fatalism surrounding the illness, which until recently has been equated with a death sentence.

"Fatalism is the biggest burden to pursuing the challenge of curing cancer," said Professor Jimmie Holland of the Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Even in the United States, which has spearheaded cancer research and treatment, it has only been since about 1975 that doctors starting telling people their diagnoses, which had often been withheld for fear it would take away hope

"These attitudes can be changed," said Holland.

The heart of the summit, which was organized by Hortobagyi, Professor Davide Khayat of the Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital in Paris and a group of international oncologists, is The Charter of Paris Against Cancer.

The 10-point charter, the first global plan to combat cancer, consists of items covering patient rights, commitments to basic research and improvements in access to clinical trials and prevention and screening initiatives.