Effective Prevention Measures Urgently Needed to Prevent Global Cancer Crisis


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Christopher Wild, MD

More commitment to prevention and early detection is desperately needed in order to complement improved treatments and address the alarming rise in cancer burden globally.

—Christopher Wild, MD

Earlier this year the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the World Health Organization, launched a World Cancer Report 2014. The report, a collaboration of over 250 leading scientists from more than 40 countries, described multiple aspects of cancer research and control.

Based on the latest statistics on trends in cancer incidence and mortality worldwide, this book reveals how the cancer burden is growing at an alarming pace and emphasizes the need for urgent implementation of efficient prevention strategies to curb the disease.

“Despite exciting advances, this Report shows that we cannot treat our way out of the cancer problem,” states Christopher Wild, MD, Director of IARC and co-editor of the book. “More commitment to prevention and early detection is desperately needed in order to complement improved treatments and address the alarming rise in cancer burden globally.”

Increasing Global Burden of Cancer

In 2012, the worldwide burden of cancer rose to an estimated 14 million new cases per year, a figure expected to rise to 22 million annually within the next two decades. Over the same period, cancer deaths are predicted to rise from an estimated 8.2 million annually to 13 million per year. Globally, in 2012 the most common cancers diagnosed were those of the lung (1.8 million cases, 13.0% of the total), breast (1.7 million, 11.9%), and large bowel (1.4 million, 9.7%). The most common causes of cancer death were cancers of the lung (1.6 million, 19.4% of the total), liver (0.8 million, 9.1%), and stomach (0.7 million, 8.8%).

The Cancer Divide

As a consequence of growing and ageing populations, developing countries are disproportionately affected by the increasing numbers of cancers. More than 60% of the world’s total cases occur in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America, and these regions account for about 70% of the world’s cancer deaths, a situation that is made worse by the lack of early detection and access to treatment.

Avoidable Deaths

Access to effective and affordable cancer treatments in developing countries, including for childhood cancers, would significantly reduce mortality, even in settings where health-care services are less well developed.

However, the spiralling costs of the cancer burden are damaging the economies of even the richest countries and are way beyond the reach of developing countries, as well as placing impossible strains on health-care systems. In 2010, the total annual economic cost of cancer was estimated to reach approximately US$1.16 trillion. Yet about one-half of all cancers could be avoided if current knowledge was adequately implemented.

“The rise of cancer worldwide is a major obstacle to human development and well-being. 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,” said Dr Wild.

Vaccination Campaigns and Health Promotion

Many developing countries continue to be disproportionately affected by the double burden of high infection-related cancers (including those of the cervix, liver, and stomach) and the rising incidence of cancers (such as those of the lung, breast, and large bowel) associated with industrialized lifestyles.

For more information, visit http://www.iarc.fr/en/publications/books/wcr/index.php



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