The latest World Health Organization (WHO) report has unveiled that lung cancer continues to top the list as the most prevalent form of cancer globally, accounting for 2.5 million new cases or 12.4% of the estimated 20 million total new cases.
Despite ongoing awareness initiatives, experts attribute this persistent trend to the widespread use of tobacco products, notably in Asia. The report, released in conjunction with World Cancer Day held annually in February, also reveals a grim statistic of 9.7 million cancer-related deaths in 2022.
The report indicates that 53.5 million individuals were estimated to be alive within five years of receiving a cancer diagnosis. Shockingly, one in five people develops cancer in their lifetime, resulting in approximately 1 in 9 men and 1 in 12 women succumbing to the disease.
Following lung cancer, female breast cancer and colorectal cancer ranked as the second and third most diagnosed cancers, with 2.3 million and 1.9 million new cases, respectively.
Prostate cancer and stomach cancer followed closely, with 1.5 million and 970,000 cases, respectively. The data, covering 185 countries and 36 types of cancer, highlights that 10 specific cancer types collectively constituted about two-thirds of the global new cases and deaths in 2022.
WHO researchers delved into the gender-specific incidence of cancer, revealing that breast cancer was the leading diagnosis for women, while lung cancer took the lead for men.
Breast cancer dominated as the most common cancer in women in 157 out of 185 countries. The statistics underscore significant disparities in cancer burden based on human development, especially concerning breast cancer.
In nations with a high human development index (HDI), the likelihood of a woman being diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime is 1 in 12, and the risk of death is 1 in 71. Conversely, in countries with a low HDI, only 1 in 27 women may be diagnosed with breast cancer, but 1 in 48 will succumb to it.
Dr. Isabelle Soerjomataram, Deputy Head of the Cancer Surveillance Branch, emphasizes that women in lower HDI countries face a 50% lower likelihood of being diagnosed with breast cancer but are at a significantly higher risk of death due to late diagnosis and inadequate access to quality treatment.
Looking ahead, the report projects a daunting increase in cancer cases, with expectations reaching over 35 million by 2050—a staggering 77% surge from the estimated 20 million cases in 2022.
This escalation is attributed to both population aging and growth, as well as changes in exposure to risk factors associated with socioeconomic development.
Key contributors to the rising incidence of cancer include tobacco, alcohol, and obesity, with air pollution identified as a persistent environmental risk factor, according to the WHO.