Cancer Rates to Rise Significantly by 2050, According to UN

Feb. 2, 2024
New figures project approximately 35 million cases of cancer in 2050 compared to 22 million in 2022

New figures from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) predict that there will be more than 35 million cancer cases during 2050, which is significantly up from the estimated 20 million in 2022.

On the one hand, richer countries “are expected to have the greatest absolute increase in cancer,” but on the other, low- and middle-income countries “should see a higher proportional increase in cancer, where mortality is predicted to almost double.” According to a WHO survey that this research was published alongside, the majority of 115 countries surveyed do not adequately finance “cancer and palliative care services as part of universal health coverage.”

Lung cancer “was the most commonly occurring form worldwide” in 2022, with “2.5 million new cases.” In turn, lung cancer was the leading cause of cancer death. Female breast cancer ranked second in terms of occurrence, and colorectal cancer was the second leading cause of cancer death. Cervical cancer, while only the eighth most commonly occurring cancer globally, was the most common cancer for women in 25 countries, “many of which are in sub-Saharan Africa.”

The estimates “also revealed striking inequalities, particularly in breast cancer. One in 12 women in richer countries will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime and one in 71 will die of it…However, although only one in 27 women in poorer countries will receive a positive breast cancer diagnosis, one in 48 will die.”

According to Dr. Isabelle Soerjomataram, Deputy Head of the Cancer Surveillance Branch at IARC, these women in poorer countries are at higher risk of dying from the disease due to “late diagnosis and inadequate access to quality treatment.”

Other inequities between richer and poorer countries were revealed by the WHO survey. In richer countries, it is “seven times more likely” that lung-cancer related services are included in health benefits packages.

UN News has the story.