Cancer cases may rise sharply: WHO

Awareness is the key:Thirty per cent of cancer deaths can be prevented by avoiding risk factors.— File photo: PTI  

The number of new cancer cases is expected to rise by about 70 per cent globally over the next two decades, the World Health Organisation has cautioned.

Releasing data on the prevalence of the disease on World Cancer Day on Wednesday, the WHO said there were 14 million new cases. Over eight million people died of cancer in 2012, with 60 per cent of these deaths reported in Africa, Asia and Central and South America.

Cancer was among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality globally in 2012, and as per India’s Cancer Incidence Report (2009-2011), from 10,57,204 cases in 2012, the number went up to 10,86,783 in 2013 and to 11,17,269 in 2014. According to the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry, the estimated mortality every year is five lakh in the country.

The WHO, which has launched a global drive to prevent premature deaths from non-communicable diseases by 25 per cent by 2025, has called for vaccination against human papilloma virus (HPV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV), reducing exposure to non-ionizing radiation by sunlight and ionizing radiation (occupational or medical diagnostic imaging) and early detection.

“Around one-third of cancer deaths are due to the five leading behavioural and dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use and alcohol use. Tobacco use is the most important risk factor, causing around 20 per cent of the global cancer deaths and around 70 per cent of global lung cancer deaths,” the WHO said in a statement.

It said more than 30 per cent of cancer deaths could be prevented by modifying or avoiding key risk factors, which include tobacco use, obesity, unhealthy diet, urban air pollution and indoor smoke from the household use of solid fuels.

Owing to the increasing cancer cases and the burden they put on the health budget, the Ministry of Health in India has rolled out cancer screening programmes.