The number of world cancer cases will rise by nearly 75% in 2030 according to a just-published study in the British medical journal The Lancet. Cancer is likely be the “major cause of morbidity and mortality in the coming decades in every region of the world.”
What’s more is that 90% of the increase in cases of cancer will be in developing countries.
Researchers under Freddie Bray of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, found that there were 12.7 million new cases of cancer in 2008 and that this figure will rise to 22.2 million by 2030. The reasons for the rise are demographic and lifestyle factors.
Drawing on data from 184 countries in an IARC database, GLOBOCAN, the researchers noted particular cancer-specific and sex-specific trends: Breast, lung, colorectal and prostate cancers accounted for half the cases of cancer in wealthy countries with the highest standards of living in 2008. In middle-income countries (such as South Africa, China and India), cancers that were more common were those of the esophagus, stomach and liver.
Cases of cervical cancer — of cancers associated with infection — were especially common in the poorest countries, exceeding the number of cases of breast and liver cancer. In contrast, both wealthy and middle-income countries saw declines in cervical cancer as well as stomach cancer.
As Bray and his colleagues write, “rapid societal and economic transition in many countries” has resulted in a decline in infection-related diseases and cancers in particular in wealthy and middle-income countries. But rising rates of other types of cancer — those associated with reproductive, dietary, and hormonal factors — are attributed to a “westernized” diet and lifestyle. A “westernized” diet — containing red and processed meats, refined grains, fats and sugars — has been connected to colon cancer;†habits such as smoking and inactivity have also been connected to higher rates of cancer.
As for what we might to protect ourselves, the researchers write of “targeted interventions” that focus on effective primary prevention strategies” as well as on vaccination, early detection and effective treatment programs, through the development of new cancer drugs. New cancer drugs are being developed that are less toxic, as the New York Times notes.
Certainly issues of availability, cost and access to these drugs and treatments will be an issue for more and more of us and for public health and for the health of people around the globe. As†Ted Trimble, director of the Center for Global Health at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, says in Voice of America in a statement that suggests where public health funds need to be allocated,
Many of these cancers can be treated effectively with some combination of surgery and radiation therapy and chemotherapy. But if you donít have the trained doctors in place and the trained nurses in place and the right facilities in place, then people cannot get treated and cannot have potentially curative treatment for their cancers.
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