WHO: 9.6 million cancer deaths, 18 million new cases this year

Cancer will kill an estimated 9.6 million people in the world this year and 18.1 million new cases will be diagnosed, according to the World Health Organization’s cancer research agency.

Lung cancer is a leading cause of death among men and women, according to the World Health Organization, which points to smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke as a major cause of the disease. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo
Lung cancer is a leading cause of death among men and women, according to the World Health Organization, which points to smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke as a major cause of the disease. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, which announced its findings Wednesday, said the number of new cases, the prevalence after five years and the number of deaths was due to several factors that include social and economic development and growing and aging populations. Also, cancers are shifting from poverty and infections toward ones linked to lifestyles and diets.

The survey is based on data from 185 countries and 36 types of cancer.

In 2012, when the last survey was published, there were an estimated 14.1 million cases and 8.2 million deaths.

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During their lifetime, 1 in 5 men and 1 in 6 women will develop cancer, and 1 in 8 men and one in 11 women die from the disease, WHO reported.

Lung, female breast and colon cancer are the top three cancer types in terms of incidence, representing one third of cases worldwide. In terms of mortality, they also represent one-third of all cases — lung cancer is the top cause of death, colorectal cancer the second leading cause of death and female breast cancer the fifth leading cause of death.

Lung cancer is responsible for the largest number of deaths: 1.8 million deaths and 18.4 percent of the total “because of the poor prognosis,” the WHO said. It is followed by colon cancer with 881,000 deaths at 9.2 percent, followed by stomach with 783,000 deaths at 8.2 percent and liver cancer with 782,000 deaths at 8.2 percent. Female breast cancer is the fifth-leading cause of death — 627,000 deaths at 6.6 percent “because the prognosis is relatively favorable, at least in more developed countries.”

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Lung cancer is the leading cause of death for men, followed by liver cancer and stomach cancer.

Among women, breast cancer is the leading cause of death, followed by lung cancer and colon cancer.

In 28 countries, lung cancer is the leading cause of death among women. The highest rates of death are in North America, northern and western Europe, China, Australia and New Zealand. Hungary tops the list overall.

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“Best practice measures embedded in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control have effectively reduced active smoking and prevented involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke in many countries,” Dr. Freddie Bray, head of the Section of Cancer Surveillance at IARC, said in a statement. “However, given that the tobacco epidemic is at different stages in different regions and in men and women, the results highlight the need to continue to put in place targeted and effective tobacco control policies in every country of the world.”

In Asia, nearly half of all new cases and 57.3 percent of deaths will occur, mainly because it accounts for 60 percent of the population. With 9 percent of the population, Europe has 23.4 percent of the cancer cases and 20.3 percent of the deaths. The Americas account for 13.3 percent of the global population but have 20 percent of incidence and 14.4 percent of mortality. And in Africa, it’s 7.3 percent of the cancer deaths and 5.8 percent of the incidences.

“These new figures highlight that much remains to be done to address the alarming rise in the cancer burden globally, and that prevention has a key role to play,” the agency’s director, Christopher Wild, said in a statement, “Efficient prevention and early detection policies must be implemented urgently to complement treatments in order to control this devastating disease across the world.”

The total number of people alive within five years of a cancer diagnosis is estimated at 43.8 million.

ByAllen Cone