Global cancer burden expected to rise by 60% by 2040

The 20th anniversary of World Cancer Day (February 4, 2020), an annual event meant to raise cancer awareness and encourage governments, oncology societies, non-governmental organizations, businesses, and individuals to take action against the global impact of the disease. This has been formed in recognition to make progress in cancer prevention, provide better access to cancer care, and to have better outcomes of survival. The goals address impact on human life, human suffering and productivity. The emphasis is on providing access of quality cancer care to all.

There is global rise in cancer burden in spite of progress in care in past 2 decades. The global cancer burden is estimated to grow to more than 29 million cases annually by 2040, assuming global rates in 2018 remain the same. Cancer is the leading or second-leading cause of death in 91 countries worldwide, and that the global cancer cases is expected to increase by 60% in 2040. That global rise in cancer burden is expected to continue to disproportionately affect low- and middle-income countries, where, in 2012, 65% of all cancer deaths globally occurred. This percentage is expected to increase to 75% by 2030.

"In addition to cancer medicines, radiotherapy is a main pillar of cancer treatment, and more than 50% of patients requiring radiotherapy in low- and middle-income countries do not have access to this treatment. Lack of trained professionals too is an issue. The “I Am and I Will” campaign is the theme for World Cancer Day across 3 years from 2019 to 2021, and it’s a theme to drive bigger impact on raising public awareness of cancer. We need to gather together individuals, communities, organizations, schools, business enterprises, and hospitals in various cities to make cancer awareness possible," says Dr Chinnababu Sunkavalli, senior robotic surgical oncologist, Apollo Cancer Institute, Jubilee Hills.

This year, the 20th anniversary of World Cancer Day promises to be the year that ignites greater dialogue and action to accelerate the reduction of unnecessary deaths from cancer globally.

Sunkavalli added,"Lack of access to oncology care is a major factor in the nearly 10 million deaths from cancer each year globally. Other barriers include masculine gender norms, feelings of shame and fear, and lack of knowledge about the early signs of cancer by patients and health-care providers. Access to care is truly a big problem. Many statistics show that survival outcomes are much worse in low-resource settings, usually because cancer is detected so late in the disease course. There is need to bridge the gap in cancer care and increase early detection and screening. We need a holistic solution to remove stigmas and social prejudices associated with cancer."

Shortages of medical equipment, including radiotherapy machines, medicines, and oncologists, are all major factors in cancer health disparities and poor cancer outcomes in low- and middle-income countries.

Reducing the cancer burden in low- and middle-income countries is very difficult because the problem is multifactorial, including a lack of access to affordable cancer treatment (eg, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiotherapy) and to oncology professionals.



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