UN: Cancer Rates Will Worsen With Poorest Hit Hardest

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Feb. 5, 2014 –  Cancer rates globally are predicted to increase by about 70 percent in the next two decades and lower-income countries will be hit hardest.

Late diagnoses and the high cost of treatment place an undue burden on poorer patients and population growth, ageing and the spread of risk factors such as tobacco use will result in the situation worsening, according to the 2014 World Cancer Report, published by WHO.

“This divide between the experiences of individual cancer patients will only increase,” the report says. “Taken in isolation, this is a dark prediction.”

The report calls for much greater emphasis on cancer prevention as it is “implausible to treat our way out of cancer.” On a positive note, it says that there is enough information available to prevent 50 percent of cancers if prevention strategies are implemented.

It states that the decades-old perception of cancer as a disease of affluence is false as high-risk factors such as tobacco use, obesity, alcohol abuse, less exercise, sun exposure and pollution are not unique to rich countries.

More than 60 percent of cancer cases occur in Africa, Asia, Central and South America and these regions account for 70 percent of cancer deaths.

There were 14 million new cancer cases and 8 million cancer-related deaths in 2012, according to the report.

The five most common cancers for Women are: 1. Breast 25.2%; 2. Colorectum 9.2%; 3. Lung 8.7%; 4. Cervix  7.9%; 5. Stomach 4.8%, and for Men: 1. Lung 16.7%; 2. Prostate 15%; 3. Colorectum 10%; 4. Stomach 8.5%; 5. Liver 7.5%.

Lung, stomach and liver cancer have the highest mortality rates for men. Breast cancer, which has a survival rate of about 65 percent, still accounts for 14.7 percent of cancer deaths in women – because of its high prevalence – followed by lung cancer at 13.2 percent.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz