Worldwide Cancer Burden Growing Year by Year

Breast cancer patient receiving chemotherapy in hospital, Nov. 2008 (Photo by Jenny Mealing)


GENEVA, Switzerland, September 12, 2018 (ENS) – The global cancer burden is estimated to have risen to 18.1 million new cases and 9.6 million deaths in 2018, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, IARC, which today released the latest estimates in a new report.

By comparison, IARC reported that in 2012 there were 14.1 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million cancer deaths worldwide.

By 2030, the global burden is expected to grow to 21.7 million new cancer cases and 13 million cancer deaths.

Kaposi sarcoma is a cancer that develops from the cells that line lymph or blood vessels. Here, it appears in the lung. July 31, 2009 (Photo by Yale Rosen)

The increasing cancer burden is due to population growth and ageing as well as the changing prevalence of certain causes of cancer linked to social and economic development. In rapidly growing economies a shift has been observed from cancers related to poverty and infections to cancers associated with lifestyles more typical of industrialized countries, says today’s report from IARC, a part of the World Health Organization.

One in five men and one in six women worldwide develop will cancer during their lifetimes, and one in eight men and one in 11 women will die from the disease, IARC reports.

“These new figures highlight that much remains to be done to address the alarming rise in the cancer burden globally and that prevention has a key role to play,” says IARC Director Dr. Christopher Wild.

“Efficient prevention and early detection policies must be implemented urgently to complement treatments in order to control this devastating disease across the world.”

Worldwide, the total number of people who are alive within five years of a cancer diagnosis, called the five-year prevalence, is estimated to be 43.8 million.

The GLOBOCAN 2018 database, accessible online as part of the IARC Global Cancer Observatory, provides estimates of incidence and mortality in 185 countries for 36 types of cancer and for all cancer sites combined.

Breast cancer patient receiving chemotherapy in hospital, Nov. 2008 (Photo by Jenny Mealing)

An analysis of these results, published today in “CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians,” highlights the large geographical diversity in cancer occurrence and the variations in the magnitude and profile of the disease between and within world regions.

Cancers of the lung, female breast, and colorectum are the top three cancer types in terms of incidence, and are ranked within the top five in terms of mortality. Together, these three cancer types are responsible for one-third of the cancer incidence and mortality burden worldwide.

Effective prevention efforts may explain the observed decrease in incidence rates for some cancers, such as lung cancer in men in Northern Europe and North America and cervical cancer in most regions apart from Sub-Saharan Africa.

Yet, the new data show that most countries are still faced with an increase in the absolute number of cases being diagnosed and requiring treatment and care.

Global patterns show that for men and women combined, nearly half of the new cases and more than half of the cancer deaths worldwide in 2018 are estimated to occur in Asia, in part because the region has nearly 60 percent of the global population.

Europe accounts for 23.4 percent of the global cancer cases and 20.3 percent of the cancer deaths, although it has only 9.0 percent of the global population.

The Americas have 13.3 percent of the global population and account for 21.0 percent of incidence and 14.4 percent of mortality worldwide.

In contrast to other world regions, the proportions of cancer deaths in Asia and in Africa (57.3 percent and 7.3 percent, respectively) are higher than the proportions of incident cases (48.4 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively), because these regions have a higher frequency of certain cancer types associated with poorer prognosis and higher mortality rates, in addition to limited access to timely diagnosis and treatment in many countries.

Cancers of the lung and female breast are the leading types worldwide in terms of the number of new cases; for each of these types, approximately 2.1 million diagnoses are estimated in 2018, contributing about 11.6 percent of the total cancer incidence burden.

Colorectal cancer (1.8 million cases, 10.2 percent of the total) is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer, prostate cancer is the fourth (1.3 million cases, 7.1 percent), and stomach cancer is the fifth (1.0 million cases, 5.7 percent).

Smoking tobacco is a leading cause of lung cancer. (Photo by Marco)

Lung cancer is also responsible for the largest number of deaths (1.8 million deaths, 18.4 percent of the total), because of the poor prognosis for this cancer worldwide, followed by colorectal cancer (881,000 deaths, 9.2 percent), stomach cancer (783,000 deaths, 8.2 percent), and liver cancer (782,000 deaths, 8.2 percent).

Female breast cancer ranks as the fifth leading cause of death (627,000 deaths, 6.6 percent) because the prognosis is relatively favorable, at least in more developed countries.

In men, lung cancer ranks first and prostate cancer second in incidence in both developed and developing countries.

In women, incidence rates for breast cancer far exceed those for other cancers in both developed and developing countries, followed by colorectal cancer in developed countries and cervical cancer in developing countries.

“Best practice measures embedded in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control have effectively reduced active smoking and prevented involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke in many countries,” says Dr. Freddie Bray, who heads the Section of Cancer Surveillance at IARC.

“However,” says Bray, “given that the tobacco epidemic is at different stages in different regions and in men and women, the results highlight the need to continue to put in place targeted and effective tobacco control policies in every country of the world.”

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2018. All rights reserved.


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