September 15, 2011
Female Cancer Rates On The Rise Around The Globe
Deaths from breast and cervical cancer, especially in the developing world, are rising and researchers are finding more women succumbing to those diseases at younger ages, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.Current trends suggest breast and cervical cancer deaths are starting to overtake the previous primary cause of female deaths, which was complications during childbirth and pregnancy in the developing world, AFP is reporting.
In just three decades, breast cancer rates have more than doubled, from 641,000 cases in 1980 to 1.6 million cases in 2010, a pace far exceeding global population growth. During that same period, deaths from breast cancer rose from 250,000 to 425,000 in 2010.
This indicates that screening and treatment programs are having an impact. Cervical cancer cases grew from 378,000 cases in 1980 to 454,000 in 2010. Mortality numbers from cervical cancer grew to 200,000 over the same period, nearly the same pace as cases, BBC Health News reports.
Females from developed countries are less likely to suffer increasing cancer rates due in part to more available screening, medicines, anti-smoking policies and vaccines.
Dr. Rafael Lozano, professor of global health at IHME, and co-author of the paper, said breast cancer was primarily a problem for high-income countries but as the world has become more globalized, this is starting to change.
“The main known risk factors for breast cancer - poor diet and obesity - are now becoming more commonplace in poor countries,” he explains. “We have found that while countries such as the United States and United Kingdom have been able to lower the risks of women dying from breast cancer, through better screening and treatment, countries with fewer resources are seeing the risks go up.”
IHME has published a report, 'The Challenge Ahead: Progress and Setbacks in Breast and Cervical Cancer', which provides global, regional, and country data for cases, deaths, and risks over the past three decades. The work was funded by Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
“We at Susan G. Komen for the Cure have seen firsthand the growing burden of breast and cervical cancers in our outreach to low-resource countries in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and central Europe.”
“This report confirms what we have witnessed, and adds urgency to calls to world health leaders to make cancer screening, treatment, and education a priority in the developing world,” said Elizabeth Thompson, president of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
The highest growth rates have been in north Africa, the Middle East, Oceania, south-east Asia, western sub-Saharan Africa and Central America. Cases have risen most slowly in the rich, developed countries. The UK has one of the lowest growth rates at 1 percent a year, reports The Guardian.
“There is a perception that breast cancer is a disease of older women in developed countries,” said Christopher Murray, lead author of the IHME paper published online by the Lancet medical journal.
“Part of the analysis says it is already a big issue for younger women in the developing world. In many countries it may be a bigger issue than maternal mortality.”
On the Net:
- Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington
- The Challenge Ahead: Progress and Setbacks in Breast and Cervical Cancer
- Susan G. Komen for the Cure
- The Lancet