The burden

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide and accounted for 7.6 million deaths (around 15% of all deaths) in 2008. 66% of all cancer deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries. Deaths from
 cancer worldwide are projected to continue rising, with an estimated 13.1 million deaths in 2030.

The disease

The main types of cancer are:

  • Lung (1.4 million deaths/year)
  • Stomach (737,000 deaths)
  • Liver (695,000 deaths)
  • Colorectum (609,000 deaths)
  • Breast (458,000 deaths)

The socioeconomic impact

A joint report by the American Cancer Society and Livestrong identified the total economic burden of premature death and disability due to cancer to be 895 billion USD in 2008. This was 1.5% of the world’s GDP in 2008 and did not include the direct costs of medical treatments for cancer.

Prevention and risk factors

More than 30 % of cancers are preventable through modification of behavior and lifestyles. In addition to the risk factors of unhealthy diet, tobacco use, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol, reduction in exposure to cancer-related infections such as HPV (cervical cancer), HBV (liver cancer) and helicobacter pylori (stomach cancer), as well as environmental and occupational exposure to carcinogens are the focus areas of cancer prevention.

Early detection

Many of the most common high-impact cancers – breast, cervical, oral and colorectal cancers – lend themselves to affordable and accessible early detection through screening, with high potential for recovery if diagnosed at an early stage and appropriate treatment is provided.

Historically referred to as “lifestyle,” diseases, most chronic, or non- communicable, diseases are largely preventable. The most common causes for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are tobacco use, alcohol, poor diet and physical activity. GACD refers collectively to NCDs as cardiovascular disease (mostly heart diseases and stroke), chronic respiratory disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and mental illnesses.

According to the World Health Organisation:

  • NCDs account for 63% of all deaths (36 million out of 57 million global deaths)
  • Eighty percent of NCDs deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries
  • Globally, the NCD burden will increase by 17% in the next ten years, and in Africa by 27%
  • NCDs affect all ages – nearly 43 million children under 5 years old were overweight in 2008
  • One and a half billion adults 20 and older were overweight in 2008

According to the NCD Alliance:

  • NCDs are the world’s number one killer
  • The largest burden – 80% (28 million) – occurs in low- and middle- income countries (LMICs), making NCDs a major cause of poverty and an urgent development issue
    NCDs will be the leading cause of disability by 2030


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