Global cancer cases expected to increase 77 percent by 2050: WHO report

The World Health Organization expects global cancer cases to increase 77 percent by 2050, according to a new report from the U.N. agency.

The data released Friday by the organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), examined 2022 data for over 185 countries and 36 forms of cancer.

IARC found that 10 types of cancer made up two-thirds of the world’s new cases and deaths in 2022.

Lung cancer was the most commonly occurring cancer, with 2.5 million new cases. Female breast cancer ranked second with 2.3 million new cases, followed by colorectal cancer with 1.9 million new cases and prostate cancer with 1.5 million new cases.

There were 1.8 million deaths due to lung cancer, which accounted for 18.7 percent of all cancer deaths in 2022, the report found.

Cervical cancer was the most common cancer in women in 25 countries, many in sub-Saharan Africa.

The report found women were less likely to be diagnosed, but more likely to die from breast cancer in countries that have a low Human Development Index (HDI) due to “late diagnosis and inadequate access to quality treatment.”

The HDI is WHO’s “summary measure of human development” — a measure of a country’s average achievements based on the health, knowledge and standard of living of its people.

“WHO’s new global survey sheds light on major inequalities and lack of financial protection for cancer around the world, with populations, especially in lower income countries, unable to access the basics of cancer care,” Dr. Bente Mikkelsen, director of the Department of Noncommunicable Diseases at WHO, said in the report.

The organization predicts that there will be 35 million new cancer cases in 2050. The prediction reflects population aging and growth, as well as exposure to risk factors like tobacco, alcohol, obesity and environment.

“The impact of this increase will not be felt evenly across countries of different HDI levels. Those who have the fewest resources to manage their cancer burdens will bear the brunt of the global cancer burden,” Dr. Freddie Bray, head of the Cancer Surveillance Branch at IARC, said in the report.

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