Global cancer incidence expected to rise 75% by 2030

Cancer rates may increase by as much as 93% in developing countries

The number of people with cancer worldwide is expected to increase by more than 75% by 2030 as improved living standards in developing nations increase the rate of lifestyle-related cancers, according to a report in The Lancet Oncology.

For the study, researchers from the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) examined 2008 data from 184 countries to determine potential variation in present and future cancer rates based on the nation's Human Development Index (HDI).

Currently, developing nations have high rates of cancers associated with infections (cervical and stomach cancers), while developed nations have higher rates of cancers associated with smoking (lung cancer), reproductive risks, and diet (breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers).

The researchers found that rates of infection-related cancer appear to be declining in developing nations as living standards improve. However, those reductions likely will be offset by major increases in cancers associated with "westernized" lifestyles.

As a result, the researchers projected that by 2030:

  • Cancer incidence rates in nations with low HDIs—such as nations in sub-Saharan Africa—could increase by up to 93%; and
  • Cancer incidence rates in nations with medium HDIs—such as China and India—could increase by 78%.

According to IARC Director Christopher Wild, the study findings show "the dynamic nature of cancer patterns" across the globe. "Countries must take account of the specific challenges they will face and prioritize targeted interventions," he said, emphasizing the need for programs for prevention, early detection, and effective treatments (Kelland, Reuters, 5/31; Preidt, HealthDay, 5/31).

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