Cancer is a major burden of disease worldwide. Each year, tens of millions of people are diagnosed with cancer around the world, and more than half of the patients eventually die from it.
In many countries, cancer ranks the second most common cause of death following cardiovascular diseases. With significant improvement in treatment and prevention of cardiovascular diseases, cancer has or will soon become the number one killer in many parts of the world.
As elderly people are most susceptible to cancer and population aging continues in many countries, cancer will remain a major health problem around the globe.
In this review, we summarized published data to describe the severity of the burden. We also analyzed the GLOBOCAN 2002 database to evaluate the morbidity and mortality of cancer in various geographic regions around the world.
The GLOBOCAN 2002 database was put together using the huge amount of data available in the Descriptive Epidemiology Group of the International Agency of Research on Cancer (IARC), a World Health Organization agency in Lyon, France .
Incidence data are available from cancer registries. They cover either entire national populations or samples of such populations from selected regions. Cancer registries also provide statistics on cancer survival. Mortality data by cause are available for many countries through the registration of vital events.
Cancer is a large group of diseases that can start in almost any organ or tissue of the body when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably, go beyond their usual boundaries to invade adjoining parts of the body and/or spread to other organs.
The latter process is called metastasizing and is a major cause of death from cancer. A neoplasm and malignant tumour are other common names for cancer.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, accounting for an estimated 9.6 million deaths, or one in six deaths, in 2018.
Lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach and liver cancer are the most common types of cancer in men, while breast, colorectal, lung, cervical and thyroid cancer are the most common among women.
The cancer burden continues to grow globally, exerting tremendous physical, emotional and financial strain on individuals, families, communities and health systems.
Many health systems in low- and middle-income countries are least prepared to manage this burden, and large numbers of cancer patients globally do not have access to timely quality diagnosis and treatment.
In countries where health systems are strong, survival rates of many types of cancers are improving thanks to accessible early detection, quality treatment and survivorship care.