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  • Posted April 4, 2024

Cancer Cases Will Keep Rising Worldwide: Report

Cancer cases will continue to climb for the next two decades, spurred on by an aging worldwide population, a new report shows.

An estimated 20 million new cancer cases were diagnosed in 2022, and 9.7 million died from cancer around the globe, the Global Cancer Statistics 2024 report from the American Cancer Society found.

By 2050, the number of cancer cases is predicted to reach 35 million annually, the report added.

“This rise in projected cancer cases by 2050 is solely due to the aging and growth of the population, assuming current incidence rates remain unchanged,” said report co-author Hyuna Sung, a senior principal scientist for cancer surveillance at the American Cancer Society (ACS).

Unhealthy lifestyle choices will also continue to play a role in new cancers, Sung added.

“Notably, the prevalence of major risk factors such as consumption of unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, heavy alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking are increasing in many parts of the world and will likely exacerbate the future burden of cancer, barring any large-scale interventions,” Sung said in an ACS news release.

Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer around the world, as well as the leading cause of cancer death overall and in men, the report said.

Lung cancer represents one in every eight cancers and one in five cancer deaths, with almost 2.5 million cases and 1.8 million deaths each year.

After lung cancer, men most often develop prostate and colon cancers and die from liver and colon cancers, the report said.

In women, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of cancer death, followed by lung, colon and cervical cancers.

“With more than half of cancer deaths worldwide being potentially preventable, prevention offers the most cost-effective and sustainable strategy for cancer control,” said senior study author Dr. Ahmedin Jemal, senior vice president of surveillance & health equity science at the ACS. “Elimination of tobacco use alone could prevent one in four cancer deaths, or approximately 2.6 million cancer deaths annually.”

In another example of preventable cancer, researchers noted that only 15% of eligible girls around the world have received the vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV). Virtually all cervical cancers are caused by HPV. Every day in 2022, approximately 1,800 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer and nearly 1,000 women died from the disease worldwide, the report showed.

Cervical cancer continues to be the leading cause of cancer death in women in 37 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and in Latin America, the report said. Case rates are 10 to 16 times higher in Eswatini, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Tanzania than in the United States.

A lack of screening contributes to these deaths. Only 36% of women worldwide have been screened for cervical cancer, the report says. 

In fact, inadequate early detection and treatment services cause many low-income countries to have high cancer death rates even though they have fewer overall cases of cancer.

For example, the breast cancer mortality rate is twice as high in Ethiopia as it is in the United States (24 versus 12 deaths per 100,000 people), even though Ethiopia has a 60% lower case rate for breast cancer (40 cases versus 100 cases per 100,000 people).

"Understanding the global cancer burden is critical to ensuring everyone has an opportunity to prevent, detect, treat and survive cancer," said Karen Knudsen, CEO of the ACS.

More information

The World Health Organization has more about cancer.

SOURCE: American Cancer Society, news release, April 4, 2024

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