WHO cited alarm: Global cancer burden rising, revealing under financial funding by many countries!

Visual Representation for cancer | Credits: Google Images
Visual Representation for cancer | Credits: Google Images

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), issued stats for the global burden of cancer, ahead of World Cancer Day. It was a part of universal health coverage (UHC).

The results published included 115 countries, showcasing that a majority of countries are not investing enough in cancer and palliative care services.

According to the IARC estimates, it also highlighted the disproportionate rise of cancer burden affecting underserved populations the most. Therefore, an urgent call is made to address the world’s inequalities as well.

Know more of the report’s findings

Around 20 million new cancer cases and 9.7 million deaths because of it were reported in 2022.

As per WHO, about 1 in 5 people develop cancer in their lifetime, which includes roughly 1 in 9 men and 1 in 12 women who die from the illness.

Merely 39 percent of the participating countries had covered the basics of cancer management, as part of their core financial budget in the health sector for their citizens, termed as ‘health benefit packages’ (HBP) as shown by the global WHO survey on UHC and cancer.

Moreover, only 28 percent of participating countries also added care for those requiring palliative care, which also includes pain relief in general and not just cancer-linked pain.

Three major types of cancer were identified in 2023: WHO

As per the new estimates, which can be seen on IARC’s Global Cancer Observatory revealed that 10 types of cancer comprised two-thirds of new cases and deaths in 2022 on a global scale.

Campus for the World Health Organisation (WHO)

The data covered 285 countries and 36 types of cancer.

The most common type of cancer observed was lung cancer comprising 2.5 million new cases, amounting to 12.4 percent of the total new cases worldwide.

The second ranked was Female breast cancer causing 2.3 million cases, 11.6 percent of tola new cases globally. It was followed by colorectal cancer accounting for 1.9 million cases, 9.6 percent, then prostate cancer amounting to 1.5 million cases, and 7.3 percent, and then stomach cancer causing 970,000 cases, 4.9 percent cases globally.

Deaths due to cancer in 2022

According to WHO, lung cancer being the leading cause of the most cancer deaths in the world led to 1.8 million deaths equivalent to 18.7 percent of the total cancer deaths.

It was followed by colorectal cancer – 900 000 deaths, 9.3%, then liver cancer, which led to- 760 000 deaths, 7.8%, next was breast cancer leading to 670 000 deaths, 6.9% and stomach cancer (660 000 deaths, 6.8%.

The reason cited for the re-emergence of lung cancer as the leading cancer type is mostly because of high tobacco consumption in Asia.

Differences noted in cancer cases among men and women across the world

Across the males and females, some differences were also noted in the cases and death numbers due to cancer across the world.

In the case of women, the most prevalent type found was breast cancer, whereas among men, it was lung cancer.

According to WHO, in 157 out of the 185, breast cancer was the major cause of incidents in women and also a major cause of death due to cancer in women.

In the case of men, the second and third most commonly held cancers recorded were prostate and colorectal respectively. In women, it was lung and colorectal respectively.

About Cervical Cancer

It is the eighth most common cancer type occurring globally, and also the ninth leading cause of cancer death amounting to 661 044 new cases and 348 186 deaths.

Representation for Cervical Cancer Awareness | Credits: iStock

Among 25 countries, it is the leading cancer type in women, mostly were sub-Saharan African countries.

As per the WHO, Cervical cancer cases can be eliminated and removed from being a public health problem by scaling up the WHO Cervical Cancer Elimination Initiative.

What is the Human Development Index (HDI) and Cancer connection?

As per the WHO global estimates, there is a stark inequalities in the cancer burden, particularly true for breast cancer cases.

In countries with very high HDI, only one woman out of 12 will develop breast cancer in their lifetime and one out of 71 will die out of it.

Whereas, in countries with a low HDI, Only one in 27 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime and one in 48 will die out of it.

Dr Isabelle Soerjomataram, who is the Deputy Head of the Cancer Surveillance Branch at IARC stated, “Women in lower HDI countries are 50% less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than women in high HDI countries, yet they are at a much higher risk of dying of the disease due to late diagnosis and inadequate access to quality treatment.”

What will be the cancer burden increase in 2050?

As per WHO, in 2050, more than 35 million new cases of cancer are predicted. It is a whopping 77 percent jump from the estimated 20 million cases in 2022.

The reasons cited are varied, ranging from population ageing and growth, also changes in people’s exposure to risk factors, many of which include socioeconomic development as a major contributor.

The key factors causing the increasing factor of cancer are Tobacco, alcohol, and obesity, where air pollution is still a key driver of environmental risk factors.

As per the WHO reports, Dr Cary Adams, head of UICC – Union for International Cancer Control said, “Despite the progress that has been made in the early detection of cancers and the treatment and care of cancer patients–significant disparities in cancer treatment outcomes exist not only between high and low-income regions of the world, but also within countries.”

Added further, “Where someone lives should not determine whether they live. Tools exist to enable governments to prioritize cancer care and to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, quality services. This is not just a resource issue but a matter of political will.”