“A magnitude of cancer is rising”, said Freddie Bray, head of the cancer surveillance department at the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), at a press conference held on the eve of World Cancer Day, which falls on 4 of February.
The rapid growth in the global cancer burden reflects, according to the WHO, the aging and growth of the population, as well as changes in people’s exposure to risk factors, many of which are associated with socioeconomic development.
“Tobacco, alcohol and obesity are key factors behind the increase in cancer incidence, with air pollution still a key factor in environmental risk factors”, concludes the organization.
In terms of absolute burden, the WHO says it expects countries with a high Human Development Index (HDI) to record the largest absolute increase in incidence, with 4.8 million additional new cases predicted for 2050, compared to 2022 estimates. .
However, the proportional increase in incidence is more impressive in countries with a low HDI (increase of 142%) and in countries with a medium HDI (99%), he highlights, adding that, in the same way, it is expected that cancer mortality in these countries will almost double by 2050.
The impact of this increase will not be felt equally in countries with different HDI levels, warning the WHO that those who have fewer resources to manage “the burden of cancer” are those who will bear the brunt of the global burden of cancer.
Despite progress, the WHO warns of significant disparities in cancer treatment outcomes, not only between high- and low-income regions of the world, but also within countries, warning that “where someone lives should not determine whether they live ” and that “the numbers show urgency”.
The WHO recalls the tools that already exist to allow governments to prioritize cancer care and ensure that everyone has access to quality services at affordable prices.
“This is not just a question of resources, but a question of political will”, argued, at the same press conference, the head of the International Union for Cancer Control, Cary Adams.
Asked by journalists about the relationship between Covid-19 disease and the increase in new cases of cancer, particularly due to the lack of early detection tests, the deputy head of the IARC cancer surveillance department, Isabelle Soerjomataram, said that “it was minimal” the impact of deaths in this period and that it was “less than expected”, but without providing data or further details.
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