Next 20 years: Cancer deaths will rise to 14.6 million

Next 20 years: Cancer deaths will rise to 14.6 million
Tue Feb 4, 2014 17:27:11

Scientists at the World Health Organization have called for immediate action to combat a ‘tidal wave of cancer’ that will sweep the globe in the next 20 years.

The number of new cancer cases worldwide will rise by 70 per cent from 14.1 million in 2012 to 24 million in 2035, the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said in their latest World Cancer Report.

The future global burden of cancer will increasingly shift to poorer countries, WHO said, but it added that half of all world cancers are now preventable with existing medical knowledge and expertise.

Annual deaths from cancer will almost double in the same time period from 8.2 million to 14.6 million.

One of the report's editors, Doctor Bernard Stewart from the University of New South Wales in Australia, said that modifications to human behavior, such as reducing alcohol consumption, would play a “crucial role in combating the tidal wave of cancer which we see coming across the world”.

"In relation to alcohol, for example, we're all aware of the acute effects, whether it's car accidents or assaults,” he said. “But there's a burden of disease that's not talked about because it's simply not recognized, specifically involving cancer.

Less developed countries will see an increase in cancer incidence – the number of new cases per year – of 44 per cent in the next decade, whereas in richer countries, incidence rates will only increase by 20 per cent.

The inequalities are largely down to varying levels of access to both cancer treatments and preventative healthcare – such as screening programs and vaccines for cancers caused by infections like the human papilloma virus (HPV). However, the gap between countries will widen as people in less developed nations increasingly adopt “industrialized lifestyles” – smoking and drinking more, and eating more highly processed food.

Dr Christopher Wild, director of IARC and co-editor of the World Cancer Report 2014 said it was clear the world would never “treat its way out of cancer” and emphasized the role that prevention should play in years to come.

Smoking is responsible for around 20 per cent of all cancers globally and lung cancers are the most common form of cancer in the world, accounting for 13 per cent of all cases and 19 per cent of all cancer deaths.


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