Worldwide, the number of cancer cases will increase by 60% in the next two decades if the number of smokers, hepatitis and HPV does not decrease, the WHO warns
- WHO says seven million lives can be saved from cancer with changes in tobacco use and better vaccination against and treatment for HPV and hepatitis
- About 81% of these cases are expected to occur in low-income countries
- About a quarter of all cancer deaths worldwide are caused by tobacco use, which makes them completely preventable
- Both diagnoses and cancer deaths have declined in the US, but poorer countries have had to focus on infectious diseases and maternal and fetal health
Driven by persistently high rates of HPV, hepatitis and smoking – especially in low-income countries – the world could see 60 percent more cancer cases in the next 20 years, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned in a new report.
More than 80 percent are expected to be diagnosed in low-income countries, according to the report released Monday.
Progress against cancer is astonishing in the US because falling smoke rates and better treatments for the most difficult forms of the disease improve survival chances.
Other countries are not so happy and have had to invest their limited resources in fighting infectious diseases and keeping mothers and babies alive during pregnancy and childhood.
But internationally, the WHO says that seven million lives can be saved by improving screening and vaccination for HPV and hepatitis, which respectively lead to most cases of cervical cancer and liver cancer.
According to a new WHO report, cancer rates will rise globally, with the greatest burden of premature deaths from the disease (orange, red) in poorer countries.
Worldwide – and in the US – cancer is the second leading cause of death.
Between 2016 and 2017, the US saw a record decline with 2.2 percent fewer deaths in one year.
It came when the smoke percentages continued to fall year after year to a low point.
But the American Cancer Society attributed the saved lives not only to prevention, but also to innovations and improvements in the screening and treatment of two of the most common forms of the disease: skin and lung cancer.
Other rich countries have seen a similar encouraging decline.
Poorer countries, on the other hand, do not have access to the same benefits.
According to a new WHO report, as long as current trends continue, the world is facing strong increases in cancers and cancer mortality.
Approximately 90 percent of rich countries offer a full pipeline of cancer care – from screening to diagnostics, treatment and palliative care – available through public health care systems.
But this is only the case in about 15 percent of the poorer countries.
“This is a wake-up call for all of us to tackle the unacceptable inequalities between cancer services in rich and poor countries,” says Dr. Ren Minghui, Assistant Director General, Universal Health Coverage / Communicable and Noncommunicable Diseases at the WHO .
‘If people have access to primary care and referral systems, cancer can be detected early, treated effectively and cured.
“Cancer should not be a death sentence for anyone, anywhere.”
In the US, children enrolled in the public school must have hepatitis A and B vaccines (unless medical or other exemptions have been granted in some states).
And the more recently introduced HPV vaccine is now recommended at the age of 11, in an effort to prevent cancer caused by the sexually transmitted virus, including most cervical cancers and some genitals, head and neck.
Such measures require investment, but are not unattainable, according to the WHO.
“Over the past 50 years, we have made tremendous progress in cancer prevention and treatment research,” said Dr. Elisabete Weiderpass, director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
“The number of cancer deaths has decreased.
“High-income countries have adopted prevention, early diagnosis and screening programs that, together with better treatment, have contributed to an estimated 20 percent reduction in the risk of premature death between 2000 and 2015, but low-income countries only saw a reduction of 5%. We must see that everyone benefits equally.