Cancer cases rising globally but death rates are falling: study

In India, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among men and breast cancer among women


Photo: Madhu Kapparath/Mint
Photo: Madhu Kapparath/Mint

New Delhi: Cancer cases of all kinds are rising globally but the death rates are falling, according to a new study of 28 cancer groups in 188 countries.

In India, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among men and breast cancer among women.

Lung cancer took the lives of 45,333 men in 2013 and outnumbered all other kinds of cancer-related deaths. In the case of women, it was breast cancer with 47,587 deaths.

The number of mouth cancer cases in India has more than doubled from 55,480 cases in 1990 to 127,169 cases in 2013. Breast cancer cases too have more than doubled from 57,374 to 154,261 cases, says the study titled The Global Burden of Cancer 2013 and released on Thursday. The study was conducted by an international consortium of researchers and coordinated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.

“Cancer is the second largest cause of death globally after cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Lalit Dandona, professor at Public Health Foundation of India and IHME, and study co-author. “Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer in India followed by mouth cancer and cervical cancer. Prevention where possible and early detection are crucial as treatment of late stage cancer is often difficult in less developed settings.”

Globally, in 2013, there were 14.9 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million cancer deaths. Among men, prostate cancer topped the chart with 1.4 million new cases and 293,000 deaths. Prostate cancer cases have increased more than three fold during 1990-2013 due in part to population growth and aging. For women, similar factors contributed to the rise in breast cancer cases. In 2013, there were 1.8 million new cases and 464,000 deaths.

Other kinds of cancers witnessing a rise include colon and rectum cancer, which have increased 92% each. Since 1990, stomach cancer cases have gone up 23% and liver cancer cases by 70%.

India differed from most other countries with respect to new cases of cervical cancer and mouth cancer. For women, cervical cancer ranked fifth in the top 10 kinds of cancers globally but ranked second in India. Mouth cancer was not in the top 10 kinds of cancers globally but ranked second in India for men and women combined.

The proportion of global deaths due to cancer has increased from 12% in 1990 to 15% in 2013. Lung, stomach and liver cancer have remained the three leading causes of cancer deaths for both sexes combined during this period. Lung cancer deaths have increased by 56%, stomach cancer deaths by 10%, and liver cancer deaths by 60%.

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