World, Health

60% rise estimated in cancer cases globally: WHO

Most new cases occuring in low- and middle-income countries, says UN health agency

Gozde Bayar   | 04.02.2020
60% rise estimated in cancer cases globally: WHO file photo

ANKARA 

The world will see a 60% increase in cancer cases over the next two decades if current trends continue, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.

“The greatest increase [an estimated 81%] in new cases will occur in low- and middle-income countries where survival rates are currently the lowest,” the WHO said in a statement on Tuesday, marking the annual World Cancer Day.

In 2019, more than 90% of high-income countries reported that comprehensive treatment services for cancer were available in the public health system compared to less than 15% of low-income countries, it added.

“At least 7 million lives could be saved over the next decade by identifying the most appropriate science for each country situation, by basing strong cancer responses on universal health coverage, and by mobilizing different stakeholders to work together,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, was quoted as saying.

The UN health agency highlighted a range of proven interventions to prevent new cancer cases including controlling tobacco use, which is responsible for 25% of cancer deaths, vaccinating against Hepatitis B to prevent liver cancer, eliminating cervical cancer by vaccinating against HPV, screening and treatment.

However, health services in low- and middle-income countries are not equipped to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, according to the WHO.

These countries, it said, focus their limited resources on fighting infectious diseases and improving maternal and child health instead of fighting cancer.

“This is a wake-up call to all of us to tackle the unacceptable inequalities between cancer services in rich and poor countries,” said Dr. Ren Minghui, an assistant director-general at WHO.

World Cancer Day, observed annually on Feb. 4, aims to raise awareness of the deadly disease and encourage its prevention, detection and treatment.

Every year, the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) along with other organizations launch campaigns to increase public awareness about cancer and provide information on ways of reducing the risk of developing it.

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