According to the World Health Organization's cancer research agency, there were approximately 20 million cancer cases and 9.7 million cancer deaths in 2022. These numbers highlight the growing burden of cancer worldwide and the "striking inequity" between rich and poor countries.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reports that around one in five people develop cancer in their lifetimes, with one in nine men and one in 12 women dying from the disease. However, the threat of cancer varies depending on where a patient lives. In more developed countries like Canada, the U.S., and the U.K., one in 12 women get breast cancer, but only one in 71 women die from it. In less developed countries like Jamaica, Cameroon, and Papua New Guinea, one in 27 women get breast cancer, but one in 48 women die from it.
The report emphasizes that women in lower-income countries are less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer and are at a much higher risk of dying from the disease due to late diagnosis and inadequate access to quality treatment. The authors also note that a majority of countries do not adequately fund cancer screening and palliative care services, including for breast cancer.
The IARC also highlights the increasing prevalence of different types of cancer as lifestyles change. Colorectal cancer is now the third-most common cancer and the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths. This type of cancer is linked to factors like age, obesity, smoking, and alcohol use. Lung cancer has re-emerged as the most common cancer and the leading cause of death, mainly due to persistent tobacco use in Asia.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer diagnosis and care has been minimal so far, according to the limited data available from high-income countries. However, the IARC predicts a 77% increase in cancer cases by 2050, with poorer countries experiencing a 142% rise in cases and doubled mortality rates.
In conclusion, the global burden of cancer is increasing, with a significant disparity between rich and poor countries. Adequate funding for cancer screening and palliative care services is crucial in addressing this issue. Additionally, there is a need to address lifestyle factors that contribute to the rising prevalence of certain types of cancer.