THE number of cancer cases will surge by more than 70 per cent in a global “tidal wave” of the disease over the next 20 years, the World Health Organisation predicts.
Cancer cannot be beaten by treatment alone and research must shift towards preventing the disease, a group of 250 scientists say in the WHO’s latest five-yearly World Cancer Report.
They call for taxes, health warnings and advertising restrictions on alcohol and junk food to protect the world against the disease.
In 2012, there were 14 million new cases of cancer worldwide, and this is likely to rise to 25 million within 20 years as the world population ages. Deaths will rise from eight million in 2012 to 13 million.
About half of cancer cases could be prevented and research must look at ways to persuade people to smoke and drink less, eat better and exercise more, the report says.
“Behind each one of these numbers there’s an individual and a family faced with a tragic situation,” said Christopher Wild, director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer and co-editor of the report.
“We cannot treat our way out of the cancer problem. More commitment to prevention and early detection is desperately needed in order to complement improved treatments and address the alarming rise in cancer.
“The rise of cancer worldwide is a major obstacle to human development and wellbeing. These new figures and projections send a strong signal that immediate action is needed to confront this human disaster.”
One in five men and one in six women will get cancer before they reach the age of 75, the report says.
Poorer countries will bear the brunt of the problem as they cope with the biggest rise in cases while struggling with a lack of detection and treatment mechanisms.
However, even the rich world will struggle to cope with the “spiralling” cost of cancer, which now tops $1.1 trillion a year.
Bernard Stewart, of the University of NSW, co-editor of the report, urged politicians to apply the lessons of tobacco control to other areas.
“The availability, labelling, promotion and price of alcohol – these things should be on the agenda,” he said.
Lung cancer is the world’s most common and most deadly cancer, accounting for 13 per cent of cases and 19 per cent of deaths. Breast and bowel cancers are the next most common, with 12 and 10 per cent of world cases. Liver and stomach cancers are the next most deadly, each responsible for about 9 per cent of deaths.
THE TIMES reported in The Australian
Comment: “Cancer cannot be beaten by treatment alone and research must shift towards preventing the disease”… isn’t this just stating the obvious.
But the choice of words is interesting: “beaten”, as if it is a war, and that “treatment” isn’t working, but that “prevention” is the best option.
The call for “taxes” also indicates that influence of politics and social control that would occur with the sort of ‘blanket’ approach advocated here.