New report focuses on preventing global cancer crisis
According to the latest data compiled by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) cancer agency, the world is headed toward a global cancer crisis if left unchecked, with cases expected to rise to 22 million annually within the next 20 years.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released the World Cancer Report 2014 this week, compiling the work of more than 250 leading researchers from more than 40 countries. The report—released in advance of World Cancer Day, Feb. 4, 2014—states the worldwide number of new cancer cases rose to an estimated 14 million in 2012, the last year for which data is available. Projecting for the next two decades, the researchers not only predict that number will nearly double, but cancer deaths will rise from an estimated 8.2 million to 13 million annually over the same period.
In 2012, the agency reports most common types of cancer diagnosed were:
- Lung, 13 percent of all cancers (1.8 million)
- Breast, 11.9 percent (1.7 million)
- Large bowel, 9.7 percent (1.6 million)
The cancers identified as the most common causes of death were lung, liver and stomach. The report editors say the alarming statistics reveal the need for prevention strategies worldwide, especially in developing countries where such programs aren’t yet readily accessible. More than 60 percent of the world’s cancer cases and about 70 percent of cancer deaths occur in Africa, Asia and Central and South America.
“Despite exciting advances, the report shows that we cannot treat our way out of the cancer problem,” says Dr. Christopher Wild, director of IARC and co-editor of the report in a press release. “More commitment to prevention and early detection is desperately needed in order to complement improved treatments and address the alarming rise in cancer burden globally.”
Dr. Wild says the rise of cancer worldwide is a major obstacle to “human development and well-being,” and these alarming new statistics send a strong message that immediate action is needed “to confront this human disaster, which touches every community worldwide, without exception.”
Dr. Ann Mauer, an oncologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, agrees.
“The numbers really are remarkable, but not all that surprising, unfortunately,” Dr. Mauer says. “It’s essential that, globally, patients are offered access to recommended cancer screenings and educated on the importance of a healthy lifestyle for prevention.”
Dr. Mauer says the financial burden of treating cancer is so enormous, screening efforts are essential to insure cases are caught in their earliest possible stages. Worldwide prevention measures, access to health care and personal accountability can help alleviate the crisis, she says.
“I recommend following the American Cancer Society guidelines for cancer screening,” Dr. Mauer says. “There are several things you can do to reduce your personal cancer risk, including limiting alcohol use, avoiding tobacco, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, being physically active and limiting exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. You should also visit your doctor for routine check-ups.”
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