Global Cancer Burden to Nearly Double by 2030

Global Facts & Figures, 2nd ed. Cover

A new American Cancer Society report says cancers associated with lifestyles and behaviors related to economic development, including lung, breast, and colorectal cancers, will continue to rise in developing countries if preventive measures are not widely applied. The finding comes from the second edition of Global Cancer Facts & Figures and its academic publication, Global Cancer Statistics, published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

According to estimates from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), there were approximately 12.7 million new cancer cases worldwide in 2008, 5.6 million of which occurred in economically developed countries and 7.1 million in economically developing countries. There were approximately 7.6 million cancer deaths worldwide in 2008, 2.8 million of which occurred in economically developed countries and 4.8 million in economically developing countries.

By 2030, the global cancer burden is expected to nearly double, growing to 21.4 million cases and 13.2 million deaths. And while that increase is the result of demographic changes – a growing and aging population – it may be compounded by the adoption of unhealthy lifestyles and behaviors related to economic development, such as smoking, poor diet, and physical inactivity.

An accompanying editorial (appearing in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians) by Otis W. Brawley, MD, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, says about 2.6 million of the 7.6 million cancer deaths that occurred in 2008, or about 7,300 cancer deaths per day, were potentially avoidable through the prevention of known risk factors, including tobacco use, dietary factors, certain infections, and alcohol use.

“The worldwide application of existing cancer control knowledge according to the capacity and economic development of countries or regions could lead to the prevention of even more cancer deaths in the next two to three decades,” writes Brawley. “In order to achieve this, however, national and international public health agencies, governments, donors, and the private sectors must play major roles in the development and implementation of national or regional cancer control programs worldwide.”