New UN Agency report shows cancer is now the world’s biggest killer – with the number of cases set to explode in coming years
World Cancer Day: On World Cancer Day 2014, a new global cancer report compiled by UN Agency, The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) shows:
- As a single entity, cancer is the biggest cause of mortality worldwide – there were an estimated 8.2 million deaths from cancer in 2012
- Global cancer incidence over four years increased by 11%* to an estimated 14.1 million cases in 2012 – equal to the population of India’s largest city (Mumbai)
- Cancer cases worldwide are forecast to rise by 75% and reach close to 25 million over next two decades
“The rise of cancer worldwide is a major obstacle to human development and well-being,” comments Dr Christopher Wild, Director of IARC. “These new figures and projections send a strong signal that immediate action is needed to confront this human disaster, which touches every community worldwide, without exception,” stresses Dr Wild.
The World Cancer Report 2014 confirms that inequality exists in cancer control and care globally. The number of deaths due to the disease amongst the world’s poor is growing at a faster rate than previously expected. Specifically, by 2025 almost 80% of the increase in the number of all cancer deaths will occur in less developed regions.
Unlike the developed countries, a large proportion of cancers in developing nations are caused by infections, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV), which accounts for more than 85% of all HPV-related cancer cases. As these countries increasingly adopt a more western lifestyle we are witnessing increasing levels of smoking, alcohol use and a lack of physical activity – all known risk factors for cancer.
Low- and middle-income countries are most at risk of cancer overwhelming their health systems and hindering economic growth, as they have the least resources and infrastructure to cope with the predicted levels of disease escalation. Worryingly, according to the World Health Organisation, only 50% of low- and middle-income countries have operational National Cancer Control Plans.
“Governments must recognise the growing cancer burden in their country. The new figures from IARC show that the incidence of cancer globally will continue to grow unless we recognise the threat and act on it now. On World Cancer Day, we demand that Governments around the world move to stop the millions of predicted, needless and premature deaths caused by cancer by developing and implementing a national plan which includes proven preventive and early detection measures,” urges Cary Adams, Chief Executive Officer, Union for International Cancer Control (UICC).
With spiraling care and treatment expenditure, poor and wealthy nations must all contribute in the fight against cancer. Currently almost 4.2 million people per year die prematurely (aged 30 to 69 years) due to the disease across the world. Unless decisive action is taken to develop practical strategies to address cancer, this is projected to increase to well over five million premature deaths per year by 2025.
Practical solutions to reduce premature deaths must have prevention as their cornerstone. These include:
- Development of National Cancer Control Plans
- Awareness programmes against modifiable risks factors
- Cancer screening programmes – shown to have decreased some cancers by at least 25%
- Introduction of HPV vaccination programmes
The release of the World Cancer Report underpins the 2014 World Cancer Day theme ‘Debunk the myths’. The data shows that the world cannot afford to sit back and continue to let the global cancer burden grow. For more information on how to get involved, please visit: http://worldcancerday.org.
* Differences between 2008 and 2012 may partially reflect the increasing availability of data sources and improvements in methods between GLOBOCAN versions.
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