WHO Forecasts Significant Surge in Cancer Cases by 2050

Written by Henrik Rothen

Feb.02 - 2024 7:54 AM CET

Photo: Shutterstock.com
Photo: Shutterstock.com
WHO Forecasts Significant Surge in Cancer Cases by 2050 Due to Lifestyle and Environmental Factors.

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The World Health Organization's (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has issued a stark warning about the future global cancer landscape, projecting a dramatic increase in cases over the next few decades. By 2050, the number of new cancer diagnoses is expected to soar to over 35 million, marking a 77% rise from the figures recorded in 2022. This is reported by Science Alert.

This alarming forecast is attributed to a combination of factors, including the aging and growth of the global population, alongside shifts in risk factor exposure linked to socioeconomic development.

Key among these risk factors are tobacco and alcohol use, obesity, and exposure to air pollution, which have been identified as significant contributors to the rising cancer incidence.

The IARC's analysis suggests that the most developed nations will witness the largest numerical increase in cancer cases, expecting an additional 4.8 million diagnoses by 2050 compared to data from 2022. However, in relative terms, the most dramatic proportional increases will be seen in countries with lower rankings on the United Nations' Human Development Index (HDI), where new cases are projected to surge by 142%. Middle-HDI countries are not far behind, with a predicted increase of 99% in the same period.

Moreover, the burden of cancer mortality is also expected to nearly double by 2050 in these regions, compounding the challenge for nations with limited resources to address and manage their growing cancer burdens.

Freddie Bray, the head of IARC's cancer surveillance branch, emphasized the uneven impact of this anticipated increase across different countries, highlighting the particular vulnerability of those with fewer resources to combat the rising tide of cancer cases effectively.

This forecast underscores the urgent need for comprehensive global efforts to mitigate risk factors and bolster healthcare systems, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, to prepare for and address the looming increase in cancer prevalence.

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