Cancer incidence predicted to increase 75 percent by 2030

May 31, 2012

The global cancer burden is set to surge more than 75% by 2030, according to new research published Online First in the Lancet Oncology. The rise is predicted to be even larger in the developing world, with the poorest countries experiencing a projected increase of more than 90%.

The study, led by Dr Freddie Bray of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, is the first to examine how the current and future patterns of incidence and mortality of different vary between countries with different levels of development, as measured by their Human Development Index (HDI).

Although incidence rates and the burden of some types of cancer (such as and ) appear to be mainly declining in countries transitioning socially and economically towards higher levels of human development, the reduction is likely to be offset by a substantial increase in the types of cancer more associated with a so-called "Westernised" lifestyle, including breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer.

"Cancer is already the leading cause of death in many high-income countries and is set to become a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the next decades in every region of the world; this study serves as an important reference point in drawing attention to the need for global action to reduce the increasing burden of cancer", states Dr Bray.

The study used data from GLOBOCAN, a database compiled by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) comprising of estimates of cancer incidence and mortality in 2008 in 184 countries worldwide. The researchers describe how patterns of the most common types of cancer varied according to four levels of human development. These findings were then used to project how the cancer burden is likely to change by 2030 in light of predicted changes in and ageing, as well as the changing trends in incidence rates of six of the most common types of cancer in countries with medium, high and very high levels of HDI.

Countries with a low HDI (predominantly countries in sub-Saharan Africa) currently experience a high incidence of cancers associated with infection, particularly cervical cancer and, dependent on the region or country, liver cancer, stomach cancer and Kaposi's sarcoma. By contrast, countries with a higher HDI (such as the UK, Australia, Russia, and Brazil) have a greater burden of cancers more commonly associated with smoking (lung cancer), reproductive risk factors, obesity and diet (female breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer).

While increasing living standards in the coming decades in lower-HDI countries may lead to a decrease in the burden of some infection-related cancers, the authors warn that, irrespective of future developments, there may be a surge in the types of cancer which currently affect mainly higher-HDI countries. They predict that demographic changes as well as changing trends in cancer incidence rates could lead to a large increase in the cancer burden in lower or medium HDI countries, with medium HDI countries (such as South Africa, China, and India) predicted to experience an increase of 78% in the number of cancer cases by 2030, and low HDI countries predicted to undergo a 93% increase over the same period. The study also revealed the following trends:

  • Prostate cancer and female breast cancer incidence rates appear to be rising in most countries currently with medium, high, or very high levels of HDI.
  • Stomach cancer and cervical cancer are predominantly decreasing in countries with medium, high, or very high levels of HDI, although for cervix cancer, there are a number of exceptions.
  • In countries with high and very high HDI levels, lung cancer tend to be decreasing in men, but increasing in women, though in a given country this is dependent on the current stage of the tobacco epidemic; while lung cancer is not a leading cancer in low HDI regions at present, it will become a leading cause of cancer unless tobacco smoking is effectively controlled in these areas.
  • In 2008, almost 40% of the incident cases of cancer that occur globally occur in very high HDI countries, despite these regions containing just 15% of the world's population.
While the authors point out that their predictions are constrained by incomplete data on for many countries, particularly in the developing world, their results nonetheless provide a startling indicator of likely global cancer trends over the next few decades.

Dr Christopher Wild, IARC Director said: "This study reveals the dynamic nature of cancer patterns in a given region of the world over time. Countries must take account of the specific challenges they will face and prioritise targeted interventions to combat the projected increases in burden via effective primary prevention strategies, early detection, and effective treatment programmes".

Explore further: Study finds liver cancer increasing in low risk countries, decreasing in high risk countries

More information: Study online: www.thelancet.com/journals/lan … (12)70211-5/abstract

Related Stories

Study finds liver cancer increasing in low risk countries, decreasing in high risk countries

October 6, 2011
A new study finds liver cancer incidence rates continue to increase in some low-risk parts of the world such as North America, and are decreasing in some of the highest risk countries of Asia. Despite this, the incidence ...

Lifestyle changes can help prevent 30% of cancers: WHO

February 3, 2012
More than 30 percent of cancers can be prevented by lifestyle changes, the World Health Organization said Friday, on the eve of World Cancer Day.

Canada should play a role in addressing the global cancer epidemic: researchers

April 10, 2012
Cancer is a growing health concern in low- and middle-income countries, and there is an opportunity for Canada to make a significant contribution to help tackle the disease, states an analysis in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association ...

Recommended for you

CAR-T immunotherapy may help blood cancer patients who don't respond to standard treatments

October 20, 2017
Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is one of the first centers nationwide to offer a new immunotherapy that targets certain blood cancers. Newly approved ...

Researchers pinpoint causes for spike in breast cancer genetic testing

October 20, 2017
A sharp rise in the number of women seeking BRCA genetic testing to evaluate their risk of developing breast cancer was driven by multiple factors, including celebrity endorsement, according to researchers at the University ...

Study shows how nerves drive prostate cancer

October 19, 2017
In a study in today's issue of Science, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, part of Montefiore Medicine, report that certain nerves sustain prostate cancer growth by triggering a switch that causes tumor vessels ...

Gene circuit switches on inside cancer cells, triggers immune attack

October 19, 2017
Researchers at MIT have developed a synthetic gene circuit that triggers the body's immune system to attack cancers when it detects signs of the disease.

One to 10 mutations are needed to drive cancer, scientists find

October 19, 2017
For the first time, scientists have provided unbiased estimates of the number of mutations needed for cancers to develop, in a study of more than 7,500 tumours across 29 cancer types. Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger ...

Researchers target undruggable cancers

October 19, 2017
A new approach to targeting key cancer-linked proteins, thought to be 'undruggable," has been discovered through an alliance between industry and academia.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.