Breast cancer and cervical cancer rising in developing countries

The number of cases and deaths from breast and cervical cancer are rising in most countries, especially in the developing world where more women are dying at younger ages, according to a new global analysis by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.

Breast cancer cases more than doubled around the world in just three decades, from 641,000 cases in 1980 to 1.6 million cases in 2010, a pace that far exceeds global population growth. During that same period, deaths from breast cancer rose from 250,000 to 425,000 in 2010. This much slower increase than the rise in cases indicates that screening and treatment programs are having an impact. Cervical cancer cases grew from 378,000 cases in 1980 to 454,000 in 2010. Cervical cancer deaths grew to 200,000 over the same period, nearly the same pace as cases.

The new study, “Breast and cervical cancer trends for 187 countries, 1980-2010: a systematic analysis,” is published in The Lancet.

“Women in high-income countries like the United States and the United Kingdom are benefiting from early cancer screenings, drug therapies, and vaccines,” said Dr. Rafael Lozano, Professor of Global Health at IHME and one of the paper’s co-authors, “We are seeing the burden of breast and cervical cancer shifting to low-income countries in Africa and Asia. This is one of the early signs of the emerging threat of noncommunicable diseases in these countries. Everyone has been talking about that threat. Now the trend is clear.”

Coinciding with the study’s release, IHME is publishing a report, The Challenge Ahead: Progress and setbacks in breast and cervical cancer, which provides global, regional, and country data for cases, deaths, and risks over the past three decades. The work was funded by Susan G. Komen for the Cure?.

“We at Susan G. Komen for the Cure have seen firsthand the growing burden of breast and cervical cancers in our outreach to low-resource countries in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and central Europe. This report confirms what we have witnessed, and adds urgency to calls to world health leaders to make cancer screening, treatment, and education a priority in the developing world,” said Elizabeth Thompson, president of Susan G. Komen for the Cure?.

Komen on Sept. 13 announced a global partnership with the George W. Bush Institute, the U.S. State Department, and UNAIDS to support breast and cervical cancer screening in Africa and Latin America.

Source: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, USA

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