Saturday, 26 July 2014

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Complex, diverse, and only partially understood

Cancer Cell. Flickr / wellcome images / 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

4 February 2014 –Cancer remains surrounded by myths, false assumptions and stigma.  Cancer still remains a taboo in many settings, and even within highly engaged communities, the level of knowledge of cancer and the willingness to talk about it with friends and family can be low.

More research, discussion and awareness are needed to fight cancer in both developing and developed countries, the UN reminds on World Cancer Day.

With new cancer cases worldwide expected to rise from 14 million to 22 million per year within the next two decades, and annual cancer deaths rising from 8.2 million to 13 million, the United Nations calls for multipronged preventive action including treaties and laws extending tobacco-style restrictions to alcohol and sweetened beverages.

“More commitment to prevention and early detection is desperately needed in order to complement improved treatments and address the alarming rise in the cancer burden,” said Dr. Christopher Wild, Director of the specialized UN cancer agency in launching a new report ahead of World Cancer Day on Tuesday.

Disparities in cancer outcomes exist between the developed and developing world for most cancers. Patients in low resource settings whose cancer may be curable in the developed world, often suffer and die unnecessarily due to a lack of awareness, resources and access to affordable and quality cancer services.

The study, World Cancer Report 2014, issued by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a specialized agency of the UN World Health Organization headed by Dr. Wild, stresses that the cancer burden is mounting at an alarming pace. Due to growing and ageing 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.
 
Over 85% of the 275,000 women who die every year from cervical cancer are from developing countries.
 
Currently, 7.6 million people die from cancer worldwide every year, out of which, 4 million people die prematurely (aged 30 to 69 years).

Globally, in 2012 the most common cancers diagnosed were those of the lung (1.8 million cases, 13 per cent of the total), breast (1.7 million, 11.9 per cent), and large bowel (1.4 million, 9.7 per cent). The most common causes of cancer death were cancers of the lung (1.6 million, 19.4 per cent), liver (0.8 million, 9.1 per cent), and stomach (0.7 million, 8.8 per cent).

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