Barcelona, Spain: Only a few years ago cancer was considered to be a disease of westernised, developed countries, but now the burden is increasingly falling on less developed countries, a leading epidemiologist told ECCO 14, the European Cancer Conference, today (Monday 24 September). Professor Peter Boyle, Director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France, said that a major challenge for low-to-medium resource countries would be to find sufficient resources to treat the large numbers of cancers that would be diagnosed in their populations in the coming years.
In the year 2000, estimates suggest that there were 10.4 million new cases of cancer diagnosed worldwide, 6.5 million deaths from cancer, and over 25 million people living with cancer. Taking account of the growth and ageing of the worlds population, and factoring in an annual increase in cancer incidence and mortality of one percent, in 2030 there may be 27 million new cases diagnosed, 17 million cancer deaths, and 75 million people alive with cancer.
If we put population growth and ageing to one side, said Professor Boyle, the exportation of cancer risk factors, primarily tobacco smoking, from developed countries will continue to be a major determinant of cancer risk and cancer burden in less developed countries.
Low-to-medium resource countries will be harder hit by cancer than high-resource countries, says Professor Boyle. This is because such countries often have a limited health budget and a high background level of communicable disease. Cancer treatments are not universally available and life-extending treatments, for economic reasons, are available only to a few, if at all.
But something can be done. In Europe, although the number of cancer cases continues to rise, there are starting to be fewer deaths than expected, said Professor Boyle, and this showed that cancer control policies were working. We have moved from the theoretical to
|Contact: Mary Rice|
Federation of European Cancer Societies