The Global Cancer Burden

Why Global Cancer Rates are Rising

Low-and-middle-income countries shoulder most of the cancer burden. In 2016, out of nearly 9 million cancer-related deaths worldwide, 70% were in low-and-middle-income countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, the region is projected to have more than an 85% increase in cancer incidence by 2030. A key factor in the increase of the number of cancer cases and deaths is that the global population is growing and aging. Additionally, with limited resources allocated to cancer response, LMICs are finding it increasingly difficult to respond to the overwhelming challenges that cancer brings to national health systems. As a result, more and more people suffer and die of cancer because they were diagnosed late, do not have access to treatment and pain relief – and largely because their extensive needs remain in the shadows.  

Although our understanding of cancer is unprecedented, cancer continues to be a leading cause of death largely because of lack of application of known interventions. A comprehensive response that promotes prevention, early detection, treatment, and pain control is critical to saving lives and alleviating needless suffering and will expedite the control of cancer earlier in this century.

How to Learn More

Use these resources to learn more about the global cancer burden and get information specific to your country.

Global Cancer Facts & Figures: This publication, now in its fourth edition, provides an overview of the international cancer burden, including the estimated numbers of new cancer cases and deaths worldwide and by level of economic development, as well as detailed information on select cancer sites.

Global Burden of Cancer in Women: As a part of a larger partnership with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, the American Cancer Society released a report at the World Cancer Congress focusing on the increasing impact of cancer in low- and middle-income countries, both on women’s health and their economic participation. The report emphasizes that while the societal and economic costs of cancer are considerable and even catastrophic, this burden of disease, loss of life, and economic hardship is not inevitable.

The Cost of Cervical Cancer Prevention: A study commissioned by the American Cancer Society and conducted by the Harvard Center for Health Decision Science, to estimate the cost of scaling up coverage of HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screening and preventive treatment for women in low- and middle-income countries from 2015 to 2024. The report demonstrates that these two prevention and early detection interventions provide good value for public health and have the potential to avert millions of deaths from cervical cancer.

The Cancer Atlas: A book and website created by The American Cancer Society, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the Union for International Cancer Control. This resource is a one-stop shop for all of the best global cancer data available and offers in-depth insights into the cancer burden, major risk factors, and ways leaders worldwide can take action.

The Tobacco Atlas: The most comprehensive, informative, and accessible resource on the pressing issues and proven solutions in the evolving tobacco epidemic. The sixth edition of the book and companion website (, produced by the American Cancer Society and Vital Strategies and released March 2018, detail tobacco’s myriad physical, social and economic harms, and offers a set of evidence-based tools to advance a tobacco-free world.