10 world cancer facts

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cancer facts global

A new factsheet for global cancers reveals some interesting data.

A new world cancer factsheet has been published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

  1. Over half of cancer deaths occur in less developed regions of the world. That is, areas on a medium or low level on the Human Development Index (HDI).
  1. As low HDI countries rapidly develop they become “westernized” which leads to a change in the types of cancers most prevalent. As countries develop, there is a drop in the number of infection-related cancers such as cervical but an increase in the burden of so-called “lifestyle” cancers (lung and colorectal cancers for example).

  1. Prostate, colorectal and stomach cancers are the most prevalent among men worldwide. Prostate cancer is the number one male cancer in 111 countries. Colorectum cancer is the second most common in Eastern Europe, North Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Stomach cancer is prevalent in West Africa and Asia.
  1. Breast, cervical and thyroid cancers are the most prevalent in females. Breast cancer is the number one cancer in 145 countries worldwide. Cervical cancer is more prevalent in developing or underdeveloped countries such as those in Central and South America and West Africa. Thyroid cancer is prevalent in South Korea and Vanuatu.
  1. Liver cancer is among the most commonly diagnosed cancers in South East Asia, West Africa, East Asia and Oceania.
  1. Kaposi sarcoma is a cancer prevalent in East and Southern Africa. It is an infection cancer caused by human herpesvirus 8 and is recognised as an AIDS defining illness.
  1. Tobacco is the biggest risk factor for cancer. It caused 22 percent of cancer deaths and 71 percent of lung cancer deaths in 2008.
  1. Specific infections represent the other major risk factor. An estimated 16.4 percent of new cancer cases in 2008 attributable to infection. This percentage is significantly higher (23.4%) in less developed countries that developed ones (7%). Liver, gastric and cervical cancers are the most commonly caused by infections.
  1. For breast cancer, reproductive choices, the use of hormones, differences in weight, exercise, diet and alcohol are thought to account for the global differences in risk.
  1. If recent trends in global cancers continue, by 2030 the number of new cancer diagnoses will increase to 22 million each year. This represents a 75 percent increase compared with 2008.