Cancer becomes second leading cause of global deaths

Cases in India have nearly doubled since 1990s; stomach cancer biggest killer in country

By Kundan Pandey
Published: Friday 29 May 2015

imageThe most common cancers in men and women have increased significantly since 1990, says a new study published by JAMA Oncology.

While in women, breast cancer continues to account for the highest number of new cancer cases in India, maximum number of new cancer cases among men were of mouth cancer. The study highlighted that the number of new mouth cancer cases increased more than twofold since 1990, up from 55,480 in 1990 to 127,168 in 2013 which is also the highest in the world. During the same period, the increase in breast cancer cases more than doubled, from 57,374 to 154,261. Cancer is now also the second leading cause of deaths in India.

Published on May 28 and titled “The Global Burden of Cancer 2013”, the study was conducted by an international consortium of researchers, coordinated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.

"Cancer is the second largest cause of death globally after cardiovascular disease,” said Lalit Dandona, professor at Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and IHME. He is also the co-author of the study. He further informed that breast cancer was the most frequent cancer in India, followed by mouth cancer and cervical cancer. “Prevention, wherever possible, and early detection are crucial as treatment of late stage cancer is often difficult in less-developed settings," said the expert.

Among Indian men, deaths from mouth cancer increased by 134 per cent as compared to 16 per cent increase in stomach cancer cases, the smallest increase. Similarly, among the women, deaths from ovarian cancer jumped by 123 per cent, while at 17 per cent, cervical cancer showed the smallest increase. Mouth cancer which is not prominent globally has become the second-most diagnosed cancer in India.

Different countries, different trends

Although cancer is a global phenomenon, countries around the world show considerable variations in cases. In China, stomach cancer, not breast cancer, is the second-most common cause of cancer death among women. In United Arab Emirates and Qatar, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and not prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men. Japan, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden are the only countries in the world where colon and rectum cancer was the most deadly form of cancer for women.  

In 2013, there were 14.9 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million cancer deaths worldwide. At 1.4 million new cases and 293,000 deaths, prostate cancer was the leading cause of incidence of cancer among men. Its cases have increased by more than threefold during this period, due in part to population growth and aging.

For women, similar factors contributed to the rise in breast cancer incidence. In 2013, there were 1.8 million new cases of breast cancer and 464,000 deaths. Breast cancer has remained the leading cause of incident cancer cases for women between 1990 and 2013, but the number of new cases doubled during this period. 

Other leading causes of incident cases globally include colon and rectum cancers (up 92 per cent), stomach cancer (up 23 per cent since 1990) and liver cancer (increased by 70 per cent).

In 2013, cancer was the second leading cause of deaths globally, after cardiovascular disease. The proportion of deaths around the world due to cancer has increased from 12 per cent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2013. Lung cancer, stomach cancer, and liver cancer have remained the three leading causes of cancer for both sexes combined during this time period. Lung cancer deaths have increased by 56 per cent, stomach cancer deaths by 10 per cent and liver cancer deaths by 60 percent. 

The rankings for developed and developing countries are largely the same when it comes to number of cancer deaths for both sexes, though there are some notable differences. Like cervical cancer ranks seventh in developing countries, compared to seventeenth in developed countries, and prostate cancer ranks twelth in developing countries but sixth in developed countries.
“The most effective strategies to address cancer will be tailored to local needs,” said IHME director Christopher Murray. “Country-specific data can drive policies aimed to reduce the impact of cancer now and in the future,” he added.

Leading causes of cancer deaths in India for both sexes Number of deaths in 2013
Stomach cancer 68,863
Liver cancer 66,857
Esophageal cancer 63,596
Lung cancer 61,735
Other neoplasms 49,161
Breast cancer 48,513
Cervical cancer 40,985
Colorectal cancer 40,350
Mouth cancer 38,069
Other pharynx cancer 26,710

Leading causes of cancer deaths in India for men Number of deaths in 2013 Leading causes of cancer deaths in India for men
Lung cancer 45,333 Lung cancer
Liver cancer 40,625 Liver cancer
Stomach cancer 35,218 Stomach cancer
Esophageal cancer 35,153 Esophageal cancer
Other neoplasms 28,869 Other neoplasms
Colorectal cancer 24,470 Colorectal cancer
Mouth cancer 22,350 Mouth cancer
Other pharynx cancer 20,472 Other pharynx cancer
Leukemia 13,931 Leukemia

Leading causes of cancer deaths in India for women Number of deaths in 2013
Lung cancer 45,333
Liver cancer 40,625
Stomach cancer 35,218
Esophageal cancer 35,153
Other neoplasms 28,869
Colorectal cancer 24,470
Mouth cancer 22,350
Other pharynx cancer 20,472
Leukemia 13,931

Leading causes of cancer deaths globally for both sexes in 2013, number of deaths
1 Lung cancer 1,639,645
2 Stomach cancer 840,953
3 Liver cancer 817,969
4 Colorectal cancer 771,100
5 Breast cancer 471,011
6 Esophageal cancer 440,202
7 Other neoplasms 369,605
8 Pancreatic cancer 352,435
9 Prostate cancer 292,729
10 Leukemia 265,125

Leading causes of cancer deaths globally for men in 2013, number of deaths
1 Lung cancer 1,154,629
2 Liver cancer 564,201
3 Stomach cancer 530,318
4 Colorectal cancer 413,986
5 Esophageal cancer 307,886
6 Prostate cancer 292,729
7 Other neoplasms 194,544
8 Pancreatic cancer 185,133
9 Leukemia 148,931
10 Lymphoma 133,129

Leading causes of cancer deaths globally for women in 2013, number of deaths
1 Lung cancer 485,017
2 Breast cancer 463,990
3 Colorectal cancer 357,114
4 Stomach cancer 310,635
5 Liver cancer 253,768
6 Cervical cancer 235,732
7 Other neoplasms 175,061
8 Pancreatic cancer 167,302
9 Ovarian cancer 157,754
10 Esophageal cancer 132,315

All data has been taken from JAMA Oncology report

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