Lung cancer re-emerges as biggest global threat

Lung cancer re-emerges as biggest global threat

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | A recent release from the World Health Organization (WHO) highlights that lung cancer continues to be the most prevalent cancer globally, with 2.5 million new cases constituting 12.4% of the total 20 million new cases reported.

The persistence of tobacco use in various regions, particularly in Asia, despite awareness initiatives, is identified as a major contributing factor.

The report, unveiled as part of World Cancer Day, an annual event in February aimed at raising awareness about cancer as a public health concern, also discloses that 9.7 million individuals succumbed to cancer in 2022.

The estimated number of people surviving within five years post a cancer diagnosis stands at 53.5 million. Shockingly, one in five people develops cancer during their lifetime, with approximately one in nine men and one in twelve women succumbing to the disease.

Lung cancer leads the rankings, followed by female breast cancer with 2.3 million new cases and colorectal cancer with 1.9 million cases. Other prevalent types include prostate cancer at 1.5 million cases and stomach cancer at 970,000 cases.

The data encompassing 185 countries and 36 cancers reveals that ten cancer types collectively account for around two-thirds of new cases and deaths globally in 2022.

In the analysis of cancer incidence based on gender, the WHO researchers note that breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women, while lung cancer holds this position for men.

Breast cancer dominates in 157 out of 185 countries, highlighting significant disparities in cancer burden based on human development. For instance, in countries with a high Human Development Index (HDI), one in 12 women is diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime, with one in 71 women succumbing to it. Conversely, in countries with a low HDI, one in 27 women is diagnosed, but one in 48 women dies from the disease.

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Dr. Isabelle Soerjomataram, Deputy Head of the Cancer Surveillance Branch, emphasizes the 50 percent lower likelihood of breast cancer diagnosis in women from lower HDI countries compared to their counterparts in higher HDI countries. However, these women face a significantly higher risk of death due to late diagnosis and limited access to quality treatment.

Looking ahead, cancer cases are projected to surge to over 35 million by 2050, marking a 77 percent increase from the estimated 20 million cases in 2022. This rise is attributed to both population aging and growth, as well as shifts in exposure to risk factors associated with socioeconomic development.

Key factors such as tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and obesity contribute to the escalating cancer incidence, while air pollution remains a prominent environmental risk factor, according to the WHO.