Breast cancer surpasses lung cancer as the world’s most common type: WHO

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on February 04, 2021

There were 10 million deaths in 2020, and one out of every six deaths is due to cancer.

According to statistics released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in December 2020 and cited by the World Health Organisation, breast cancer has now surpassed lung cancer as the world’s most commonly diagnosed cancer.

To address the problem, WHO is set to host the first of a series of consultations today in order to establish a new global breast cancer initiative, which will launch later in 2021.

For the initiative, WHO has collaborated with IARC, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and other multi-sectoral partners. The collaboration aims to reducebreast cancer deaths by promoting breast health, improving timely cancer detection and ensuring access to quality care.

WHO stated that the cancer community responds with renewed urgency to address breast cancer and respond to the growing cancer burden globally that is straining individuals, communities, and health systems.

The report released by the WHO mentioned that in the past two decades, the overall number of people diagnosed with cancer nearly doubled. From an estimated 10 million in 2000 to 19.3 million in 2020. Today, one in 5 people worldwide will develop cancer during their lifetime.

Projections suggest that the number of people being diagnosed with cancer will increase still further in the coming years and will be nearly 50 per cent higher in 2040 than in 2020.

The number of deaths from cancer has also increased, from 6.2 million in 2000 to 10 million in 2020. More than one out of every six deaths is due to cancer.

WHO noted that this has become common due to lifestyle changes, such as unhealthy diets, insufficient physical activity, use of tobacco, and harmful use of alcohol, among other reasons.

Covid and cancer

Many studies have shown that the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated late-stage diagnosis and lack of access to treatment. The problem is highly prevalent in low- and middle-income countries.

A WHO survey conducted in 2020 indicated that treatment for cancer had been disrupted in more than 40 per cent of countries surveyed during the pandemic.

Published on February 04, 2021

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