Despite much progress in our understanding of the essence of cancer, remarkable advances in methods for early diagnosis, the expanding array of antineoplastic drugs and treatment modalities, as well as important refinements in their use, this disease is among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in many parts of the world. In fact, the next decade is anticipated to bring over 20 million new cases per year globally, about half of whom will die from their disease. This indicates a need for better strategies to deal with cancer. One way to go forward is to draw lessons from ancient ethnopharmacological wisdom and to evaluate the plant biodiversity for compounds with potential antineoplastic activity. This approach has already yielded many breakthrough cytotoxic drugs such as vincristine, etoposide, paclitaxel, and irinotecan. The Republic of Suriname (South America), renowned for its pristine and highly biodiverse rain forests as well as its ethnic, cultural, and ethnopharmacological diversity, could also contribute to these developments. This chapter addresses the cancer problem throughout the world and in Suriname, extensively deals with nine plants used for treating cancer in the country, and concludes with their prospects in anticancer drug discovery and development programs.
Part of the book: Pharmacognosy