According to the latest data, breast cancer in women has surpassed lung cancer as the most common cancer across the world. But lung cancer still leads to more deaths. Globally, cancer is one of the leading causes of death. In 2019, the World Health Organization found cancer to be the first or second leading cause of death among people younger than 70 in 112 of 183 countries.
In an analysis of the latest information, a group of US and French researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, analyzed the prevalence and mortality statistics that are currently available and made projections of the future potential incidence of cancer.
However, they recognized an important caveat in that their predictions do not take account of the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, the researchers felt that any future projections are likely to greatly underestimate the actual incidence of cancer because of the current delays in screening and number of people receiving treatment due to the pandemic.
Data were sourced from the Global Cancer Observatory, which includes information collected from 185 countries on 35 cancers as well as patient demographics.
In 2020, the data indicates that an estimated 19.3 million new cancer cases and 10 million deaths occurred. Although female breast cancer accounted for the highest number of all cancers (11.7%) and 6.9% of all new deaths, it was closely followed by lung cancer (11.4% of cases) but which accounted for the highest proportion of deaths (18%).
Based on current trends (but not accounting for the COVID-19 pandemic), the authors estimated that there would be 28.4 million new cancer cases in 2040 which represents a 47% increase from the current 19.3 million cases.
In addition, they also noted changes in prevalence and risk between developing and developed nations. For example, it was shown that in developing continents such as Africa, the cumulative risk of cancer death among women has increased and is now broadly comparable to women in North America and in the highest income European countries, reinforcing the need for a global escalation of effort to control the disease.