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4 Feb, 2024 18:21

Cancer cases set to soar by 77% – WHO

More than 35 million cases are expected in the next quarter-century, a new study warns
Cancer cases set to soar by 77% – WHO

Global cases of cancer will surge to 35 million by the year 2050, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) cancer agency has predicted – a 77% increase over figures reported in 2022.

The predictive data, published on Thursday by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), cites the use of tobacco and alcohol, as well as obesity and poor air quality, as the primary factors driving the expected increase in cases by 2050.

“Over 35 million new cancer cases are predicted in 2050,” the IARC said in a statement on its website, adding that this number is 77% higher than the 20 million diagnosed in 2022.

The IARC’s biannual report, which is based on data from 185 countries and 36 different types of cancer, also said that there were some 9.7 million deaths from the illness globally in 2022. About one in five people can expect to develop cancer in their lifetimes, it added, with one in nine men dying from the disease compared to about one in 12 women.

“The rapidly-growing global cancer burden reflects both population ageing and growth, as well as changes to people’s exposure to risk factors, several of which are associated with socioeconomic development,” the IARC said of its findings.

The IARC data also detailed that diagnoses can vary greatly depending on where the afflicted people live. “One of the biggest challenges we are seeing is the proportional increases in the cancer burden are going to be the most striking in the lower income, lower human development countries,” the agency’s Freddie Bray told Al Jazeera on Thursday.

“They are going to see a projected increase of well over a doubling of the burden by 2050,” Bray said, adding that many of these countries are “currently ill-equipped to really deal with the cancer problem.”

The data also showed that lung cancer is the most common variant of the disease amongst men, while in women breast cancer accounts for the most cases. The IARC also said that lifestyle changes can impact cancer diagnoses, with colorectal cancer – the third most common type of cancer, and second biggest killer – seeing an increase driven by factors like tobacco, alcohol and obesity.

While there are more than 100 different types of cancer, the five most common collectively amount to about 50% of all cases.

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