14.1 lakh new cancer cases, 9.1 lakh deaths in India: WHO

Cancer Cases and Deaths Surge in India: WHO's Latest Report
Cancer,  WHO's Latest Report
Cancer, WHO's Latest Report

New Delhi | In 2022, India had more than 14.1 lakh new cancer cases and over 9.1 lakh deaths due to the disease, and breast cancer was the most common, according to the latest estimates of the disease's global burden by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Cancers of lip, oral cavity and lung were the most common ones in men, accounting for 15.6 and 8.5 per cent of the new cases, respectively, whereas, cancers of breast and cervix uteri were the most frequent ones in women, making up close to 27 and 18 per cent of the new cases, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), WHO's cancer agency has estimated.

It also calculated that the number of people alive within 5 years following a cancer diagnosis was nearly 32.6 lakhs in India.

Globally, the agency estimated 2 crore new cancer cases and 97 lakh deaths, and about 5.3 crore people were alive within 5 years following a cancer diagnosis. About 1 in 5 people develop cancer in their lifetime, and roughly 1 in 9 men and 1 in 12 women die from the disease, it said.

In India, the risk of developing cancer before turning 75 was calculated to be 10.6 per cent, while the risk of dying from cancer by the same age was found to be 7.2 per cent. Globally, these risks were 20 per cent and 9.6 per cent, respectively.

A majority of countries do not adequately finance priority cancer and palliative (pain-related) care services, as part of universal health coverage (UHC), the WHO said publishing survey results from 115 countries.

Of the participating countries, only 39 per cent covered the basics of cancer management as part of their financed core health services for all citizens - 'health benefit packages' (HBP) - and only 28 per cent additionally covered care for people requiring palliative care, including pain relief in general, the UN public health agency found.

The IARC's estimates showed that 10 types of cancer collectively comprised around two-thirds of new cases and deaths globally in 2022. Their data included 185 countries and 36 cancers.

The analysis found lung cancer to be the most commonly occurring cancer (12.4 per cent of total new cases) and also the leading cause of cancer death, accounting for almost 19 per cent of the total cancer deaths.

Persistent tobacco use in Asia could be a likely reason behind the re-emergence of lung cancer as the most common cancer, the cancer agency said.

Breast cancer in women was the second most commonly occurring one (11.6 per cent of total new cases) and accounted for nearly 7 per cent of the global cancer deaths, the IARC found.

Their figures also showed that cervical cancer was the eighth most commonly occurring cancer globally and the ninth leading cause of cancer death. It was also found to be the most common cancer in women in 25 countries, many of which are in sub-Saharan Africa.

The IARC said that cervical cancer can be eliminated as a public health problem, through the scale-up of the WHO Cervical Cancer Elimination Initiative, whilst acknowledging the varying incidence levels of the disease.

In August 2020, the World Health Assembly adopted the Global Strategy for cervical cancer elimination. The initiative, termed the WHO Cervical Cancer Elimination Initiative, urged all countries to reach and maintain an incidence rate of below 4 per 1 lakh women.

For achieving the goal, the UN agency strongly advised fully inoculating 90 per cent of girls with the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine before they turned 15 years old, screening 70 per cent of women by the age of 35 and again by 45, and treating 90 per cent of women with pre-cancer, along with managing 90 per cent of women with invasive cancer.

Each country should meet these 90-70-90 targets by 2030 to get on the path to eliminate cervical cancer within the next century, the WHO said in the initiative.

Continent-wise, the IARC found that the age-standardised incidence rate for all cancers was the highest in Oceania with 409 per 1 lakh people, followed by Northern America and Europe with 365 per 1 lakh people and 280 per 1 lakh people, respectively.

UN-region wise, it was the highest in Australia-New Zealand region at more than 400 per 1 lakh people, followed by Northern America.

The IARC analysis also found that the age-standardised rate of deaths per 1 lakh people was the highest in Europe at 82, followed by Africa at 72 and Asia at 69.

The risk of developing cancer before turning 75 years old was the highest in Oceania at about 38 per cent, followed by Northern America at 34 per cent and Europe at almost 28 per cent, the agency estimated. However, death risk from cancer was the highest in Europe at 11.5 per cent and second highest in Asia and Oceania at 9.3 per cent.

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