Cancer will overtake heart disease as the world's top killer by 2010, part of a trend that should more than double global cancer cases and deaths by 2030, international health experts reported Tuesday.
Rising tobacco use in developing countries is believed to be a huge
reason for the shift, particularly in China and India, where 40 percent
of the world's smokers now live.
Other reasons include better diagnosing of cancer, along with the downward trend in
infectious diseases that used to be the world's leading killers.
Cancer diagnoses around the world have steadily been rising and are
expected to hit 12 million this year. Global cancer deaths are expected
to reach 7 million, according to the new report by the World Health
An annual rise of 1 percent in cases and deaths is expected - with
even larger increases in China, Russia and India. That means new cancer
cases will likely mushroom to 27 million annually by 2030, with deaths
hitting 17 million.
Underlying all this is an expected expansion of the world's
population - there will be more people around to get cancer.
The report is being released Tuesday by the WHO's International
Agency for Research on Cancer at a news conference with officials from
the American Cancer Society, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the National Cancer Institute of Mexico.
The "unprecedented" gathering of organisations is an attempt to draw
attention to the global threat of cancer, which isn't recognised as a
major, growing health problem in some developing countries, said John
Seffrin, the cancer society's chief executive officer.
The organisations are issuing a call to action, asking the US government to help fund cervical cancer vaccinations and to ratify an international tobacco control treaty. South Africa has already ratified the treaty.
"If we take action, we can keep the numbers from going where they
would otherwise go," Seffrin said.
Other groups are also voicing support for more action.
"Cancer is one of the greatest untold health crises of the
developing world," said Dr Douglas Blayney, president-elect of the
American Society of Clinical Oncology.
"Few are aware that cancer already kills more people in poor
countries than HIV, malaria and tuberculosis combined. And if current
smoking trends continue, the problem will get significantly worse," he
said in a statement.
(Sapa-AP, December 2008)