The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that cancer rates could rise by 57% over the next 20 years, if more effort isn’t put into cancer prevention. Released by the WHO, the World Cancer Report is published once every 5 years by a special committee composed of nearly 250 scientists from over 40 countries.
The most recent report predicted new cancer diagnoses will skyrocket due to growing elderly populations. By 2032, the yearly death rate could be as high as 13 million people worldwide, a massive 58% jump from the 8.2 million deaths reported in 2012.
A Global Problem
The report estimated that the 2012 worldwide “cancer burden” was over $1.16 trillion, an already crippling figure. If cancer rates do increase as expected, the costs to treat rising patient numbers could soon be catastrophic. What’s worse, many of these cases are preventable.
Prevention is Key
According to the report, the rate of new cancer cases could be cut in half if people quit smoking, limited their alcohol intake, ate sensible diets, exercised, and took advantage of preventative screenings and vaccines. Lung cancer alone comprises 13% of cancer diagnoses, and between 80 and 90% of lung cancers are tied directly to smoking. For many, quitting smoking is literally a decision between life and death.
Stepping Up to the Plate
Countries like the United States have shown that efforts like anti-smoking campaigns can make a difference. 50 years ago, about 40% of the adult U.S. population identified as smokers. Since then, educational efforts have reduced that population to 18%. Other countries are following suit, with efforts now underway to ban smoking indoors in China, where a third of the world’s smokers reside.
The report also mentions the impact cancer is likely to have on developing countries, where lifespans are increasing, but also where cancers caused by infections like HPV and hepatitis are becoming more prevalent. As of the latest findings, Africa, Asia, and Central and South America claim 70% of cancer deaths. Countries worldwide need to consider the importance of cancer screening, education, and prevention, the long-term ramifications being well worth the time and money invested.