WHO Projects 77% Increase in Cancer Incidence by 2050

There were a projected 20 million new cancer cases in 2022, with more than 35 million additional cases expected by 2050.

According to forecasts from the World Health Organization’s cancer agency, the number of new cancer cases worldwide would reach 35 million in 2050, 77 percent more than in 2022.

According to a survey done by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), tobacco, alcohol, obesity, and air pollution are major contributors to the expected increase.

“Over 35 million new cancer cases are predicted in 2050,” the IARC stated in a statement, representing a 77% rise from the approximately 20 million cases detected in 2022.

“Certainly the new estimates highlight the scale of cancer today and indeed the growing burden of cancer that is predicted over the next years and decades,” Freddie Bray, chief of cancer surveillance at the IARC.

The IARC anticipated 9.7 million cancer deaths in 2022, according to a statement released accompanied its biennial report based on data from 185 nations and 36 cancer types.

Cancer affects one in every five people, killing one in every nine men and one in every twelve women, according to the report.

“The fast increasing worldwide cancer burden reflects both population aging and growth, as well as changes in people’s exposure to risk factors, some of which are linked to socioeconomic development. Tobacco, alcohol, and obesity are major contributors to the rise in cancer incidence, with air pollution remaining a major driver of environmental risk factors, according to the IARC.

Lower-income burden

The IARC also stated that the risk of cancer changes according to where a patient lives.

The most developed countries are anticipated to have the highest increase in case numbers, with an additional 4.8 million new cases predicted in 2050 compared to 2022 estimates, according to the agency.

In terms of percentages, countries at the bottom of the Human progress Index (HDI), which the United Nations uses to measure societal and economic progress, will have the biggest proportional rise, up 142%.

Meanwhile, countries in the medium category are expected to have a 99-percent increase, the report added.

One of the biggest challenges we are seeing is the proportional increases in the cancer burden are going to be most striking in the lower income, lower human development countries.

They are going to see a projected increase of well over doubling of the burden by 2050.

And these are very much the countries that currently are ill-equipped to really deal with the cancer problem. And it’s only going to get bigger and there are going to be more patients in cancer hospitals in the future.”

 Freddie Bray, head of cancer surveillance at the IARC

Bray stated that, while there are over 100 different types of cancer, the top five malignancies account for around half of all instances.

Lung cancer is the most common cancer worldwide … particularly in men, whereas breast cancer is certainly the most common cancer in women,” he said.

According to the IARC, as people’s lives change, different types of cancer are becoming more prevalent. For example, colorectal cancer is currently the third most frequent malignancy and the second leading cause of death. Colorectal cancer is strongly connected to age, as well as lifestyle variables such as obesity, smoking, and alcohol consumption.

“There should be a lot more investment in early cancer detection and screening. Bray believes that there should be far greater investment in disease prevention and palliative treatment for those who are suffering.

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