Cancer deaths to double by 2030 without intervention

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Cancer deaths are expected to double by 2030 unless steps are taken to curb unhealthy lifestyles brought about by economic development.

According to a report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), there were12.7 million new cancer cases worldwide in 2008 and 7.6 million cancer deaths. By 2030, the number of new cases and deaths is expected to rise from economic development that leads to tobacco smoking, physical inactivity and poor dietary habits.

Approximately 7300 cancer deaths that occurred daily in 2008 could have been avoided, according to Otis W. Brawley, M.D., chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. He notes in an accompanying editorial, "In order to achieve this, however, national and international public health agencies, governments, donors, and the private sectors must play major roles in the development and implementation of national or regional cancer control programs worldwide."

The increase in cancer cases from lung, breast, and colorectal cancers are expected to continue to increase as our population ages and grow, but is also linked to economic growth that compounds the problem, according to the recently released Global Cancer Statistics, published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.


The report showed in economically developed countries, the most common types of cancer were prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers in men and breast, colorectal, and lung cancers in women. In economically developing countries, cancers of the lung, stomach, and liver were most prevalent in men and breast, cervical, and lung cancers were more frequently found in women.

The differences in types of cancer diagnosed worldwide shows the impact of lifestyle on cancer development. Breast cancer has now become the leading cause of cancer deaths in women in developing countries.

The report highlights other shifts in cancer that parallel economic growth and associated with lifestyle habits and preventable. China and some countries in Asia and Africa are seeing an increase in lung cancer deaths were tobacco smoking remains high. In Western countries, lung cancer deaths have declined. Diagnosis of lung cancer in younger women has increased in Spain, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands and expected to get worse without intervention.

The report shows 2.8 million cancer deaths occurred in economically developed countries in 2008 and 4.8 million in economically developing countries. The number is expected to double by 2030. The global burden of cancer can be curbed through lifestyle changes that include tobacco cessation, physical activity and by following a healthy diet. The researchers say preventive measures are needed worldwide to reduce the number of new cancer diagnoses and deaths.