Assuming current trends continue, the global incidence of all cancer cases is set to increase to more than 20 million per year by 2030, according to a study published online June 1 in The Lancet Oncology.

Freddy Bray, PhD., from the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, and colleagues used four levels of the Human Development Index (HDI; a composite indicator of life expectancy, education, and gross domestic product per head) to assess the changing patterns of cancer. Cancer-specific patterns in 2008 (based on GLOBOCAN estimates), trends from 1988 to 2002, and future burden scenarios for 2030 were examined.

The researchers found that in 2008, in the highest HDI regions, female breast, lung, colorectal, and prostate cancer accounted for half the overall cancer burden. In medium HDI regions, esophageal, stomach, and liver cancers were also common. In medium to very high HDI regions, these seven cancers comprised 62% of the cancer burden.

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Cervical cancer was more common than breast and liver cancer in low HDI regions. Across 184 countries, prostate, lung, and liver cancer were the most common among men, and breast and cervical cancers were most common among women. Decreased cervical and stomach cancer incidence in medium and high HDI regions was offset by increased incidence of female breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer.

If these cancer- and gender-specific trends continue, the researchers predict an increase in the incidence of all-cancer cases, from 12.7 million new cases in 2008 to 22.2 million by 2030.

“Although forecasted demographic changes will probably increase the number of people with cancer to more than 20 million per year by 2030, targeted interventions can substantially reduce this number through resource-dependent interventions,” the authors write.

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