Researchers are making progress in combating cancer, particularly in the United States and other industrialized nations where medical treatment is readily available. But in the rest of the world, cancer is on the rise, according to a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO). As developing countries adopt modern lifestyles, cancer rates are increasing. According to WHO, cancer cases worldwide could surpass 19 million by 2025.
Between 2008 and 2012, cancer diagnoses worldwide grew from 12.7 million to more than 14 million and deaths from cancer rose from 7.6 to 8.2 million. By the end of the next decade, WHO expects the number of people diagnosed with cancer to begin approaching the 20 million mark, which would be a significant jump over the current worldwide cancer growth rate.
As developing countries become more industrialized, smoking, obesity and longer life spans are contributing to an increased risk of cancer, according to a BBC News health report. Lung cancer, primarily from cigarette smoking, poses the greatest risk, accounting for 13% of total cancer cases, or about 1.8 million diagnoses, worldwide. WHO also cited a significant rise in the global number of breast cancer cases; noting that breast cancer has become the most common cancer among women in 140 countries.
“Breast cancer is also a leading cause of cancer death in the less developed countries of the world. This is partly because a shift in lifestyles is causing an increase in incidence and partly because clinical advances to combat the disease are not reaching women living in these regions,” Dr. David Forman of WHO’s International Agency for Research told BBC News.