Increase in lifestyle-related cancers over past decade spotlights need for prevention

June 3, 2018, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

Lifestyle-related cancers, such as lung, colorectal, and skin cancers, have increased globally over the past decade, according to the most comprehensive analysis of cancer-related health outcomes and patterns ever conducted.

"While the increase in lung, colorectal, and skin cancers over the past decade is concerning, the prevention potential is substantial," said Dr. Christina Fitzmaurice, Assistant Professor of Global Health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, whose organization coordinated the study. "Vital prevention efforts such as tobacco control, dietary interventions, and broader health promotion campaigns need to be scaled up in response to this rise in lifestyle-related cancers."

The study, published today in JAMA Oncology, covers 1990 to 2016; it is part of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study, a comprehensive effort to quantify health internationally. Researchers reviewed 29 groups, including lung, breast, prostate, skin, colorectal, pancreatic, stomach, and liver cancers, as well as leukemia and other cancer groups (full list below). The study provides findings by age and sex for 195 countries and territories.

While lifestyle-related cancers saw a universal increase from 2006 to 2016, several cancers from infectious causes—including cervical and stomach cancers—decreased over the same time period.

Study estimates were analyzed using a Socio-demographic Index (SDI) based on rates of education, fertility, and income. SDI is more comprehensive than the historical "developed" versus "developing" nations framework. Countries with high SDI have high levels of income and education and low fertility, whereas low-SDI countries have low levels of income and education and high fertility.

Large disparities in and death persist between high- and low-SDI countries. Researchers found rates of cancer incidence and death remained higher in high-SDI countries in 2016. For example, the odds of developing over the course of one's lifetime were the highest—at 1 in 10 women—in high-SDI countries, but only 1 in 50 for women in low-SDI countries.

Conversely, the largest and fastest increase in new cancer cases between 2006 and 2016 occurred in middle-SDI countries. And women in low-SDI countries are nearly four times more likely to develop cervical cancer than women in high-SDI countries, and in 2016, was the most common cause of cancer incidence and death in low-SDI countries.

"Ensuring universal access to health care is a vital prerequisite for early detection and cancer treatment," said Fitzmaurice. "And improving access to advanced diagnostic technologies not commonly available in low-SDI countries is a critical step toward achieving health equity globally."

Additional key findings include:

  • In 2016, there were 17.2 million cancer cases worldwide, an increase of 28% over the past decade. There were 8.9 million cancer deaths the same year.
  • While cancer death rates decreased in a majority of countries from 2006 to 2016, incidence rates conversely increased.
  • Breast cancer was the leading cause of cancer death in women.
  • Lung cancer was the leading cause of cancer death in men; it was also the leading cause of cancer mortality globally, accounting for nearly 20 percent of all cancer deaths in 2016.
  • Prostate cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer incidence and death in men, in both high- and low-SDI countries, but especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

NEW CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE (AGE-ADJUSTED), 2016"Worst" and "best" countries and global

  1. Tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer: North Korea (56.9), Kenya (4.2), global (30.2)
  2. Colon and rectum cancer: Netherlands (57.5), The Gambia (4.3), global (25.9)
  3. Breast cancer: Luxembourg (61.8), Niger (5.8), global (24.1)
  4. Non-melanoma skin cancer: Australia (300.4), Bangladesh (0.7), global (23.2)
  5. Prostate cancer: Dominica (113.1), North Korea (2.4), global (22.1)
  6. Stomach cancer: South Korea (44.5), Namibia (2.7), global (17.3)
  7. Liver cancer: Mongolia (108.4), Morocco (1.9), global (14.6)
  8. Other neoplasms: Malawi (39.6), Syria (2.6), global (10.9)
  9. Cervical cancer: Somalia (34.0), Qatar (1.1), global (7.0)
  10. Leukemia: New Zealand (20.3), Zambia (2.0), global (6.8)
  11. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: Canada (21.2), Kyrgyzstan (1.5), global (6.7)
  12. Bladder cancer: Lebanon (31.1), Nigeria (1.2), global (6.7)
  13. Esophageal cancer: Malawi (25.2), Syria (0.7), global (6.6)
  14. Pancreatic cancer: Czech Republic (12.5), India (2.6), global (6.4)
  15. Uterine cancer: Latvia (23.1), Bangladesh (0.8), global (6.0)
  16. Lip and oral cavity cancer: Pakistan (22.1), Sao Tome and Principe (1.0), global (5.5)
  17. Kidney cancer: Latvia (20.5), Nepal (1.0), global (5.0)
  18. Brain and nervous system cancer: Iceland (20.8), Namibia (1.4), global (4.6)
  19. Malignant skin melanoma: Australia (55.6), Nepal (0.2), global (4.1)
  20. Ovarian cancer: Estonia (9.3), Niger (1.2), global (3.6)
  21. Thyroid cancer: Iceland (18.7), Ghana (0.2), global (3.3)
  22. Gallbladder and : Chile (11.5), Uzbekistan (0.6), global (2.8)
  23. Larynx cancer: Cuba (8.8), The Gambia (0.6), global (2.7)
  24. Other pharynx cancer: Hungary (7.3), Palestine (0.2), global (2.4)
  25. Multiple myeloma: Barbados (6.3), Tajikistan (0.4), global (2.1)
  26. Nasopharynx cancer: Malaysia (5.1), Mali (0.1), global (1.3)
  27. Hodgkin lymphoma: Greece (5.3), Syria (0.1), global (1.0)
  28. Testicular cancer: Chile (6.4), Mozambique (0.04), global (0.9)
  29. Mesothelioma: United Kingdom (2.9), Palestine (0.1), global (0.5)

DEATHS PER 100,000 PEOPLE (AGE-ADJUSTED) IN 2016 "Worst," and "best" countries and global

  1. Tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer: North Korea (61.7), Egypt (4.8), global (25.8)
  2. Colon and rectum cancer: Hungary (31.3), Sri Lanka (5.0), global (12.8)
  3. Stomach cancer: Mongolia (44.0), Maldives (3.2), global (12.6)
  4. Liver cancer: Mongolia (114.7), Morocco (2.0), global (12.1)
  5. Breast cancer: Tonga (24.7), Oman (4.0), global (7.9)
  6. Other neoplasms: Malawi (37.6), Syria (2.6), global (6.4)
  7. Esophageal cancer: Malawi (32.4), Syria (0.8), global (6.2)
  8. Pancreatic cancer: Uruguay (12.8), Bangladesh (2.5), global (6.2)
  9. Prostate cancer: Dominica (54.9), North Korea (1.9), global (6.1)
  10. Leukemia: Syria (15.3), Bangladesh (1.9), global (4.6)
  11. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: Grenada (11.0), Kyrgyzstan (1.4), global (3.6)
  12. Cervical cancer: Zimbabwe (28.7), Syria (0.6), global (3.5)
  13. Brain and nervous system cancer: Palestine (8.3), Japan (1.2), global (3.2)
  14. Bladder cancer: Malawi (11.8), Albania (0.9), global (2.9)
  15. Lip oral cavity cancer: Kiribati (14.6), Syria (0.6), global (2.6)
  16. Gallbladder and biliary tract cancer: Chile (11.3), Uzbekistan (0.6), global (2.5)
  17. Ovarian cancer: Lithuania (5.9), United Arab Emirates (0.9), global (2.4)
  18. Kidney cancer: Czech Republic (7.1), Bangladesh (0.5), global (2.0)
  19. Other pharynx cancer: India (6.1), Syria (0.2), global (1.7)
  20. Larynx cancer: Cuba (5.3), Japan (0.4), global (1.6)
  21. Multiple myeloma: Dominica (5.9), Tajikistan (0.4), global (1.5)
  22. Uterine cancer: Grenada (5.4), Maldives (0.5), global (1.3)
  23. Malignant skin melanoma: New Zealand (6.6), Bangladesh (0.2), global (0.9)
  24. Nasopharynx cancer: Malaysia (3.7), Chile (0.1), global (0.9)
  25. Non-melanoma skin cancer: Zimbabwe (4.5), Bangladesh (0.2) global (0.8)
  26. Thyroid cancer: Zimbabwe (2.3), Syria (0.2), global (0.6)
  27. Mesothelioma: United Kingdom (2.6), Palestine (0.1), global (0.5)
  28. Hodgkin lymphoma: Afghanistan (2.2), Japan (0.1), global (0.4)
  29. Testicular cancer: Kiribati (1.0), Maldives (0.02), global (0.1)

NEW CANCER CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE (AGE-ADJUSTED) IN 2016

Highest rates

  1. Australia (743.8)
  2. New Zealand (542.8)
  3. United States (532.9)
  4. Netherlands (477.3)
  5. Luxembourg (455.4)
  6. Iceland (455.0)
  7. Norway (446.1)
  8. United Kingdom (438.6)
  9. Ireland (429.7)
  10. Denmark (421.7)

Lowest rates

  1. Syria (85.0)
  2. Bhutan (86.0)
  3. Algeria (86.7)
  4. Nepal (90.7)
  5. Oman (94.9)
  6. Maldives (101.3)
  7. Sri Lanka (101.6)
  8. Niger (102.3)
  9. Timor-Leste (105.9)
  10. India (106.6)

CANCER DEATHS PER 100,000 PEOPLE (AGE-ADJUSTED) IN 2016

Highest rates

  1. Mongolia (272.1)
  2. Zimbabwe (245.8)
  3. Dominica (203.1)
  4. Hungary (202.7)
  5. Grenada (201.0)
  6. Uruguay (190.6)
  7. Tonga (189.7)
  8. North Korea (188.7)
  9. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (183.1)
  10. Croatia (180.2)

Lowest rates

  1. Syria (67.4)
  2. Algeria (67.5)
  3. Oman (69.2)
  4. Maldives (72.0)
  5. Sri Lanka (74.7)
  6. Bhutan (78.6)
  7. Uzbekistan (80.6)
  8. Nicaragua (80.9)
  9. Morocco (81.0)
  10. Qatar (81.6)

Explore further: Study estimates global cancer cases, deaths in 2015

More information: Global Burden of Disease Cancer Collaboration, Global, Regional, and National Cancer Incidence, Mortality, Years of Life Lost, Years Lived With Disability, and Disability-Adjusted Life-Years for 29 Cancer Groups, 1990 to 2016, JAMA Oncology (2018). DOI: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2018.2706

Related Stories

Study estimates global cancer cases, deaths in 2015

December 3, 2016
In 2015, there were an estimated 17.5 million cancer cases around the globe and 8.7 million deaths, according to a new report from the Global Burden of Disease Cancer Collaboration published online by JAMA Oncology.

St. Jude: $100M for children with cancer global outreach

May 24, 2018
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Tennessee has announced a $100 million plan to expand a global outreach program in hopes of improving access and quality of medical care for many children with cancer around the world.

Global burden of disease study focuses on liver cancer

October 5, 2017
A new article published by JAMA Oncology reports the results of the Global Burden of Disease 2015 study on primary liver cancer incidence, death and years of healthy life lost in 195 countries or territories from 1990 to ...

Estimating the global burden of cancer in 2013; 14.9 million new cases worldwide

May 28, 2015
Researchers from around the world have worked together to try to measure the global burden of cancer and they estimate there were 14.9 million new cases of cancer, 8.2 million deaths and 196.3 million years of a healthy life ...

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.

Deaths from liver cancer nearly double since the 1990s, new figures reveal

February 1, 2018
Over the last two decades, deaths caused by liver cancer have increased by 80%, making it one of the fastest-growing causes of cancer deaths worldwide.

Recommended for you

'Kiss of death' cancer: How computational geeks may have uncovered a therapy for a deadly disease

June 19, 2018
It's called the 'kiss of death'. Triple negative breast cancer has no targeted drug therapy and, as such, the only hope for these patients is chemotherapy. Triple negative breast cancer is aggressive and deadly. Patients ...

Team discovers gene mutations linked to pancreatic cancer

June 19, 2018
Six genes contain mutations that may be passed down in families, substantially increasing a person's risk for pancreatic cancer. That's according to Mayo Clinic research published in the June 19 edition of the JAMA. However, ...

Ovarian cancer cells switched off by 'unusual' mechanism

June 19, 2018
Scientists at the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre at Imperial College London have discovered a mechanism that deactivates ovarian cancer cells.

Breast cancer could be prevented by targeting epigenetic proteins, study suggests

June 19, 2018
Researchers at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto have discovered that epigenetic proteins promote the proliferation of mammary gland stem cells in response to the sex hormone progesterone. The study, which will ...

Targeting the engine room of the cancer cell

June 18, 2018
Researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) have developed a highly innovative computational framework that can support personalized cancer treatment by matching individual tumors with the drugs or drug ...

Study suggests well-known growth suppressor actually fuels lethal brain cancers

June 18, 2018
Scientists report finding a potentially promising treatment target for aggressive and deadly high-grade brain cancers like glioblastoma. But they also say the current lack of a drug that hits the molecular target keeps it ...

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.