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Growing Global Cancer Crisis Should Spark Call to Action

Growing Global Cancer Crisis Should Spark Call to Action

New data show a significant increase in the incidence of global cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, estimates a rise in new cases of cancer to more than 18 million, including 9.6 million deaths this year.

The report that covers 36 types of cancer in185 countries, finds one in five men and one in six women worldwide develop cancer during their lifetime and more men than women die of the disease. It says nearly half of the new cases and more than half of cancer deaths this year occurred in Asia, in part because nearly 60 percent of the global population lives there.

The data show lung and breast cancers, followed by colorectal, prostate, and stomach cancers, are responsible for the highest numbers of new cases globally. It cites lung cancer as the leading cause of death, accounting for 1.8 million deaths in 2018.

International Agency for Research on Cancer head of Surveillance Freddie Bray says by 2040, the number of new cancer cases is projected to rise to 29.3 million and the number of deaths to 16.3 million.

“The biggest increases in the cancer burden, a doubling of the cancer burden to 2040, is going to occur in countries at the lowest levels of socio-economic development,” Bray said. “Some in Sub-Saharan Africa, some in South America, some in southern Asia. But there the countries faced with this increasing cancer burden are presently ill-equipped to deal with this pending increase.”

Etienne Krug is director of the World Health Organization's Department of Non-Communicable Diseases. He says many of the main cancer risks killing people can be prevented by cutting down on tobacco and alcohol consumption, exercising more and eating better.

“And we also could do a lot by increasing immunization against some cancers like cervical cancer and liver cancers, for example,” Krug said. “But for those who have cancer, cancer should not be a death sentence anymore.”

Krug said the survival rates of people stricken with cancer could be increased by strengthening health services, improving early diagnosis, and providing access to proper treatment. He added palliative care should be given to terminally ill patients to ease their suffering.

(VOA)

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