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World Cancer Report 2014 Warns Of A "tidal Wave" Of Cancer


A World Health Organization (WHO) report has revealed that the cancer burden is growing at an alarming pace, with the number of annual new cancer cases feared to reach 22 million by 2035 from the current rate of 14 million new cases per year.

In its "World cancer report 2014," launched Monday, The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) emphasized the need for urgent implementation of efficient prevention strategies to curb the killer disease. The global battle against cancer won't be won with treatment alone, according to the specialized agency of WHO for cancer.

Launching the report on the eve of World Cancer Day, Dr Christopher Wild, Director of IARC and co-editor of the report, called for multi-pronged preventive action including treaties and laws extending tobacco-style restrictions to alcohol and sweetened beverages.

In 2012, the global burden of cancer rose to an estimated 14 million new cases per year, a figure expected to rise to 22 million annually within the next two decades.

Over the same period, cancer deaths are predicted to rise from an estimated 8.2 million annually to 13 million per year. In 2012, lung cancer was the most commonly diagnosed malignancy. About 1.8 million cases were diagnosed during this period, accounting for 13 percent of the global total. The next worst infection was on breast - 1.7 million cases -- and on large bowel - 1.4 million cases. The most common type was lung cancer, due to which 1.6 million people died. It is 19.4 percent of the total casualties. It was followed by deaths due to cancers of the liver (0.8 million), and stomach (0.7 million).

Due to growing and aging populations, developing countries are disproportionately affected, with more than 60 per cent of cases and 70 per cent of deaths occurring in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America.

But the spiraling costs of the cancer burden are damaging the economies of even the richest countries and are way beyond the reach of developing countries, as well as placing impossible strains on health-care systems, according to the report.

The report notes that about half of all cancers, whose total annual economic cost is estimated to reach approximately $1.16 trillion, could be avoided if current knowledge was adequately implemented.

The major sources of preventable cancer are identified as smoking, infections, alcohol, obesity and inactivity, radiation -- both from the sun and medical scans- air pollution and other environmental factors, delayed parenthood, having fewer children and not breastfeeding.

The implementation of effective vaccination against hepatitis B virus and human papillomavirus can markedly reduce cancers of the liver and cervix, respectively, the report says, stressing that preventing the spread of tobacco use in low- and middle-income countries is crucial to cancer control.

Likewise, in rapidly industrializing countries, measures to promote physical activity and avoid obesity should also be prioritized in relation to cancers such as those of the large bowel and breast.

"Governments must show political commitment to progressively step up the implementation of high-quality screening and early detection programs, which are an investment rather than a cost," says Dr Bernard Stewart, co-editor of the Report.

Prevention had a "crucial role in combating the tidal wave of cancer which we see coming across the world," says the Professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

The World Cancer Report 2014 is compiled with the collaboration of over 250 leading scientists from more than 40 countries, describing multiple aspects of cancer research and control.

The conclusions and predictions are based on the latest statistics on trends in cancer incidence and mortality worldwide.

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