Health experts say although cancer is often preventable, cancer cases could still rise in the next 20 years. The World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledges that cancer will increase in poorer countries, but the United States has advanced medical knowledge to treat cancer. Experts predict the number of new cancer cases will escalate by 70 percent over the next two decades, from 14 million in 2012 to 24 million in 2035. WHO also foresees annual deaths from cancer will also double within the same period, from 8 million to about 14.6 million.
New cancer cases in less-developed countries could increase by 44 percent in 20 years. However, sources say richer countries will only see a 20 percent upsurge in incidence rates. The gap between rich and poor countries will widen as less-developed nations increasingly begin to smoke, drink alcohol and eat highly-processed foods.
The director of IARC and co-editor of the World Cancer Report 2014, Dr. Christopher Wild, states it is obvious to the world that it would never heal from cancer, but he is now emphasizing the importance prevention will play in years to come. In the preface of Dr. Wilds’ report, he states that since the middle of last century immense progress has been made in determining the causes of cancer, so that about 50 percent of new cancer cases can be prevented based on current knowledge. Dr. Wild also adds that this knowledge has a huge potential for reducing the cancer load, and he can imagine the enthusiasm following an announcement of the availability of cancer treatment that is able to cure about 50 percent of patients. Therefore, prevention must be included in cancer-control plans if society is to confront the dark prognosis of the statistics.
The World Cancer Report also states if people had access to effective and inexpensive cancer drugs, it would drastically cut the death rates, even in places that are lacking healthcare services. Although rich countries have gained more medical knowledge of cancer, their weak economies still makes it hard to gain access to cancer treatment. In 2010, the total annual economic cost of cancer was about $1.16 trillion.
Health reports state that nearly 20 percent of cancer-related illnesses and deaths globally are smoking related. In addition, lung cancer is the most common form of cancer in the world, accounting for about 13 percent of all cases and 19 percent of all cancer deaths. Dr. Wild suggests the same methods used to fight against tobacco-related cancers (e.g. banning tobacco-related advertisements and smoking in public places) should also be taken into consideration for reducing other cancer risk factors, such as alcohol intake. In 2012, lung cancer, in addition to breast, colon and bowel cancers, were the most commonly diagnosed cancers. In the same year, lung, liver and stomach cancers were the most common causes of death. More than 60 percent of the world’s cancer cases occur in Africa, Asia, Central and South America. Also, these regions account for about 70 percent of the world’s cancer deaths. One reason for the high number of deaths is a lack of early detection and access to treatment.
Recent health reports have stated cancer cases could rise in the next 20 years, but this can be prevented by taking necessary precautions and being educated about the causes of cancer.
By Bridget Cunningham