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Cancer rates expected to increase 77 percent by 2050

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There are expected to be more than 35 million cases of cancer in 2050, compared to an estimated 20 million in 2022, according to estimates. latest figures from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)a specialized branch of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO).

This increase reflects both population aging and growth, as well as changes in people’s exposure to risk factors. Tobacco, alcohol and obesity are key factors, as is air pollution.

Various models

The richest countries are expected to see the greatest absolute increase in cancer, with an additional 4.8 million new cases predicted in 2050.

However, low- and middle-income countries expected to see a higher proportional increase in cancer, while mortality is expected to almost double.

IARC estimates Global Cancer Observatory are based on the best available data sources from 185 countries and cover 36 different forms of cancer.

They were released alongside a WHO survey of 115 countries, which showed the majority are not adequately funding priority cancer and palliative care services under the universal health coverage.

Common Cancers Worldwide

Ten types of cancer collectively accounted for about two-thirds of new cases and deaths worldwide in 2022, the IARC said.

Lung cancer was the most widespread form in the world with 2.5 million new cases. It accounts for more than 12 percent of all new cases and 18.9 percent of deaths, or 1.8 million, making it the leading cause of cancer deaths.

Female breast cancer comes second in terms of incidence, with 2.3 million cases, worldwide, or 11.6 percent, but represented 6.9 percent of deaths.

Other common cancers were colorectal, prostate and stomach cancer.

Colorectal cancer was the second leading cause of cancer death, followed by liver, breast and stomach cancer.

Cervical cancer was the eighth most common cancer worldwide, the ninth leading cause of cancer death, and the most common cancer among women in 25 countries, many of which are in sub-Saharan Africa.

Inequalities and investment

The IARC estimates – released ahead of World Cancer Day on February 4 – also revealed striking inequalities, particularly in breast cancer.

In wealthy countries, one in 12 women will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime and one in 71 will die from it, the agency said. However, even though only one in 27 women in the poorest countries will receive a positive breast cancer diagnosis, one in 48 people will die.

These women “are at a much higher risk of dying from the disease due to late diagnosis and insufficient access to quality treatment,” said Dr Isabelle Soerjomataram, Deputy Director of the Cancer Surveillance Branch at the CIRC.

The WHO survey also revealed significant global inequities in cancer services. For example, higher-income countries were up to seven times more likely to include lung cancer services in their health benefit programs.

“WHO, particularly through its cancer initiatives, works intensively with more than 75 governments to develop, finance and implement policies to promote cancer care for all,” said Dr Bente Mikkelsen, director of its Noncommunicable Diseases department, stressing the need for greater investment.

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