Cancer researchers estimate that the number of cancer cases will more than double over the next 25 years, with the great majority of the increase in developing countries.
Dr. Peter Boyle, director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), said April 3 that his agency estimates “between 2000 and 2030 there will be a more than doubling of the number of cases of cancer diagnosed each year, and the great majority of the increase will be in the low- and medium-resource countries.”
“Cancer is still a big problem in the Western countries, but it is now becoming an increasing, growing problem in the lower-resource countries — and that is to continue,” he said at a press conference at U.N. headquarters. “We are going to see big increases in the absolute numbers of cases” in the poorer countries.
He attributed the rise to population growth, the aging of the population and “the successful exportation of cancer risk factors” such as smoking from developed to developing countries.
“A billion people are going to die this century because of the effects of smoking,” Boyle said.
Currently, more people in the world die of cancer than die of tuberculosis, malaria and AIDS combined, he noted.
Boyle said the HIV/AIDS epidemic has led to increased health reporting in developing countries, which has allowed IARC to compile better cancer data over the past few years.
The most common or second most common form of cancer in every region of the world is breast cancer, he said. The most common type of cancer in men in Africa is Kaposi’s sarcoma, which is directly linked to the HIV/AIDS epidemic there.
Established in 1965, IARC coordinates and conducts research on the causes of human cancer and develops scientific strategies for cancer control. The agency, which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations’ agency for health issues, is involved in both epidemiological and laboratory research.
A large proportion of the cancer cases can be prevented, Boyle said. The international health community needs to find ways to stop the spread as well as ensure that adequate treatment facilities are available.