The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has predicted 18.1 million new cancer cases worldwide that may result in 9.6 million deaths in a report they released.
According to experts, there has been improvement in the area of earlier diagnosis and better prevention but this has not stopped the cancer disease from rising globally.
Just six years ago, 14.1 million new cancer cases were reported and 8.2 million deaths recorded in the IARC last assessment. The drastic increase has been associated with populations growth coupled with adoption of lifestyles normally of richer economies being now adopted by developing nations.
Though the IARC reported that preventive measures that encourages people to do exercise, eat healthy and stop smoking has been of help in reducing some types of cancer but this has not slowed down the disease from plaguing more persons globally.
“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,” said IARC director Christopher Wild.
Twenty percent (20%) of men and seventeen percent (17%) of women are likely to develop cancer in their lifetime, the study said, and the World Health Organization expects the disease to be the leading cause of death in the 21st century.
There are dozens of types of cancer, and the agency found large differences between countries due to a host of socioeconomic factors.
Asia Leads in Cancer Death Rates
Nearly fifty percent (50%) of new cases and more than fifty percent (50%) of cancer deaths worldwide has been recorded in Asia given its large population.
Lung cancer remains the biggest killer overall, responsible for some 1.8 million deaths — nearly a quarter of the global toll.
For women, breast cancer caused fifteen percent (15%) of cancer deaths, followed by lung cancer fourteen percent (14%) and colorectal cancer ten percent (10%).
The figures highlighted a worrying rise in lung cancer rates for women — it is now the leading cause of female cancer deaths in 28 countries including Denmark, the Netherlands, China, and New Zealand.
The data showed that cancer types traditionally associated with rich country lifestyles — more overweight people who are less inclined to exercise — were increasingly common in developing nations.
“One of the things that happen with transitions towards high levels of socio-economic development is the environment changes,” Freddie Bray, IARC’s head of cancer surveillance, told AFP.
“There is more physical inactivity and that happens to be a particularly high risk factor for colon cancer, for example.”
Bray said models using current cancer statistics and predicted trends forecast as many as 29 million new cases a year by 2040.
“The extent to which this is becoming a major public health problem and the diversity of cancers that we see in different regions is also a striking point,” Bray said.
Anti-cancer measures could take the form of stricter tobacco controls to limit lung cancer, or initiatives to encourage physical activity to reduce the risk of colon cancer.
But the study warned that global efforts to rein in one of mankind’s biggest killers still “lacked momentum”.
“Either from a social or an economic point of view the numbers are increasing,” said Bray.
This means “there’s a need to invest in prevention and public health programmes, and develop health services’ capacity, particularly in low-medium income countries.”
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