American Cancer Society and Lancet studies point to devastating increases, mostly in poorer countries, with breast cancer diagnoses set to almost double
Two reports have warned of an explosion in cancer deaths among women, with a toll, mainly from breast cancer, of around 5.5 million a year by 2030 roughly the population of Denmark.
This represented a near 60% increase in less than two decades, said an analysis conducted by the American Cancer Society (ACS), released on Tuesday at the World Cancer Congress in Paris.
As the global population grows and ages, the highest toll will be among women in poor and middle-income countries, it said, and much of it from cancers which are largely preventable.
Most of the deaths occur in young and middle-aged adults, placing a heavy burden on families and national economies, said Sally Cowal, senior vice-president of global health at the ACS, which compiled the report with pharmaceutical company Merck.
A second report, published in the Lancet medical journal on Wednesday, said the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer alone could almost double to 3.2 million a year by 2030 from 1.7 million in 2015.
For cervical cancer, the number of diagnoses could rise by at least 25% to over 700,000 by 2030, mainly in low- and middle-income countries, said a statement from the Lancet.
Cancer is already killing one in seven women around the world, said the ACS report the second highest cause of death after cardiovascular disease.
All four of the deadliest cancers breast, colorectal, lung and cervical cancer are mostly preventable or can be detected early, when treatment is more successful.
In poorer countries, a much smaller proportion of cancer cases are diagnosed and treated than in rich ones, while a much bigger group dies. The relative burden is growing for developing countries as people live longer due to better basic healthcare.
Women in these countries are also increasingly exposed to known cancer risk factors associated with rapid economic transition, said Cowal, such as physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, obesity, and reproductive factors including postponing motherhood.
Due to these changes, cancers that were once common only in high-income countries are becoming more prevalent, said the report entitled The Global Burden of Cancer in Women.