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Global Cancer Rates Expected to Soar by 2030

  • Jessica Berman

The number of cancer cases is predicted to surge by 78 percent in middle income countries such as South Africa and India, and spike 93 percent in the developing world by the year 2030. Experts say an aggressive global strategy is needed.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, or IARC, in Lyon, France, the incidence of all cancer cases will rise from 12.7 million new cases in 2008 to 22.2 million by 2030. The estimates are based on an analysis of social and economic trends in 184 countries compiled by the IARC.

The organization looked at the incidence of nine of the most commonly diagnosed cancers, including cancers of the cervix, liver, breast, prostate, lung and colon. It concluded that reductions in cancers caused by infections in middle-income countries, such as those of the cervix and stomach, are likely to be rapidly off-set by a rise in breast, colon and prostate, as countries become more Westernized.

The IARC reported its projections in an article published in The Lancet Oncology.

Ted Trimble is director of the Center for Global Health at the U.S. National Cancer Institute. Trimble says the findings of the International Agency for Research on Cancer study were not surprising given the introduction of fatty foods in middle income countries.

“We had seen tidings of this on the horizon because we know that as the developing world was adopting a Western lifestyle that we were going to be seeing an increase in the same cancers that afflict the developed world,” Trimble said.

In countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Trimble says it’s important to roll-out vaccinations to prevent cancers linked to infections, including cervical cancer, caused by human papilloma virus, and the virus that causes liver cancer.

“For 30 years now, we’ve had (a) good vaccination for hepatitis B which is responsible for a lot of cases of liver cancer around the world. That vaccine is very cheap. It’s about twenty-five to fifty cents a dose,” Trimble said.

Trimble also says global public health experts need to get the word out about lifestyle factors related to cancer. For example, in China, he says about 80 percent of men smoke cigarettes, a strong risk factor for lung cancer.

Ultimately, Trimble says the key is working with health organizations, non-governmental groups and countries themselves to improve access to early diagnosis and treatment.

“Many of these cancers can be treated effectively with some combination of surgery and radiation therapy and chemotherapy. But if you don’t have the trained doctors in place and the trained nurses in place and the right facilities in place, then people cannot get treated and cannot have potentially curative treatment for their cancers,” Trimble said.

This week, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, which has attracted thousands of cancer experts from around the world, is meeting in Chicago.

The NCI’s Ted Trimble says he plans to meet with cancer specialists to discuss ways increase access to cancer treatment around the world.

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