The latest estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO) are sounding an alarm about the trajectory of global cancer cases. Projections suggest that by 2050, global cancer cases will surge to 35 million, representing a staggering 77% increase from the 20 million cases reported in 2022.
Lung Cancer Dominates, While Inequities Persist in Diagnoses and Care Access Across Developed and Developing Nations
The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has revealed this unsettling data, covering 185 countries and examining 36 types of cancer. Notably, lung cancer stands out as the most prevalent form worldwide in 2022, accounting for 2.5 million cases, roughly 12.4% of the total. Shockingly, lung cancer also takes the lead in cancer-related deaths, claiming 1.8 million lives, nearly 19% of the total.
Moreover, the report highlights significant disparities in the burden of global cancer cases across developed nations. In countries boasting a high Human Development Index (HDI), breast cancer emerges as a major concern, with 1 in 12 women anticipated to receive a diagnosis and 1 in 71 facing fatal outcomes. On the flip side, in low-HDI nations, although fewer women are expected to be diagnosed (1 in 27), the mortality rate is higher (1 in 48), primarily due to late diagnoses and limited access to treatments.
These inequalities extend beyond diagnoses and include disparities in cancer services like radiation and stem cell transplants. Dr. Bente Mikkelsen, the director of WHO’s Department of Noncommunicable Diseases, underscores the urgent need for substantial investments to address these disparities and promote accessible cancer care for global cancer cases.
Biden’s Cancer Moonshot Takes Center Stage in the Fight Against Rising Cases and Racial Disparities
Several factors are identified as driving the anticipated surge in global cancer cases, including obesity, tobacco, alcohol use, and environmental factors such as air pollution. Notably, the United States has witnessed a decline in cancer-related deaths from 1991 to 2021, attributed to reduced tobacco use, earlier detection, and improved treatments. However, racial disparities persist, and certain forms of cancer are on the rise among younger individuals.
President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot initiative aims to cut US cancer deaths in half in 25 years, emphasizing the need for collaborative efforts across agencies. Despite progress, challenges persist in achieving equitable cancer care globally, underscoring the urgency to address this critical health issue and reduce the impact of global cancer cases.