New Delhi: Death from cancer is rising in developing countries even as the affliction wanes in many high-income nations, a study sponsored by the American Cancer Society showed on Monday.
The incidence of liver cancer, for example, was the highest in Asia, which also has the world’s highest prevalence of hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses, according to the study.
Improved screening and early detection, combined with decreases in risk factors like smoking, are reducing the incidence and mortality rates from several common forms of cancer in many high-income countries, according to the study.
“In contrast, rates for cancers such as lung, breast and colorectum are now rising in many LMICs (low- and middle-income countries) due to increases in risk factors typical of western countries, such as smoking, excess body weight, physical inactivity and changing reproductive patterns,” Lindsey A. Torre, an epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society and lead author of the study, said in a statement.
Torre and his colleagues analyzed the incidence and mortality data for 2003-07 from the International Agency for Research on Cancer Mondial database. The study data reflect 50 countries selected to represent various regions of the world.
The authors noted developments across eight major kinds of cancer, which account for 60% of global cases and deaths.
In India, the projected cases of cancer will rise from about a million in 2013 to 1.3 million in 2020, according to the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence.
Worldwide, an estimated 14.1 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million cancer deaths occurred in 2012, the authors said.
When it came to breast cancer, the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women, despite stabilizing or rising of incidence in wealthy nations, the mortality has been decreasing since 1999 due to improved detection and treatment.
But in poorer countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and parts of Asia, the mortality rates have increased.
“The basic thing that any government can do is to make public services available for people and focus on surveillance, diagnostic and treatment of cancers,” said Amit Sengupta, a public health activist with Jan Swasthya Abhiyaan, a non-profit organization. “The basic problem is that people, especially outside metropolitan cities, have next to no options for diagnosis and treatment and most existing facilities are in the private sector, where costs are prohibitive.”
Similarly, mortality in rich nations for stomach, colorectal and cervical cancer has declined. Incidence for colorectal cancer in many countries where rates were historically low, including many Latin American and Asian nations, has shown an increase. The researchers wrote that rapidly changing diet and physical activity patterns are possible causes.
Cervical cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in women in developing nations.
According to Torre, the most significant limitation of the study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention journal was the variation in reporting standards from one country to the next.
“This study gives us important clues about the epidemiology of cancer and gives us some ideas about what we could further investigate to improve global public health,” she said.