GLOBOCAN 2018: Worrisome New Worldwide Cancer Statistics and Calls for Action

GLOBOCAN 2018: Worrisome New Worldwide Cancer Statistics and Calls for Action

Nagi S. El Saghir, MD, FASCO, FACP

Sep 27, 2018

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (@IARCWHO), the specialized cancer research agency of the World Health Organization (@WHO), issued the GLOBOCAN 2018 estimates of worldwide cancer incidence and mortality in 185 countries for 36 cancers. GLOBOCAN 2018 is an extensive, comprehensive, 31-page report, coauthored by scientists from IARC; Lyon, France; and the American Cancer Society (@AmericanCancer), Atlanta, Georgia, USA; and published by CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians; and available at the same time through the IARC Global Cancer Observatory. GLOBOCAN 2018 is very important document for governments, health authorities, health care providers, physicians, patients, and populations worldwide. GLOBOCAN 2018 will be discussed at the UICC (@uicc) World Cancer Congress (@2018WCC) in Kuala Lumpur in October 2018. The authors and all the people who worked on it deserve our greatest applause and thanks!

GLOBOCAN 2018 indicates a significant global increase in the numbers, incidence, and mortality rates, albeit significant differences in mortality amongst countries of different economic levels. The numbers are indeed alarming. Newly diagnosed cancer cases jumped from 14.1 million in 2012 to 18.1 million in 2018, and cancer deaths from 8.2 million in 2012 to 9.6 million in 2018. The most frequent cancers are lung, breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers. Cancers with the highest mortality are lung, colorectal, stomach, and liver. These figures indicate that the most common incident cancers and those causing deaths are due to known causes and can be prevented or detected early. Lung cancer remains responsible for the highest number of deaths in all developed, high-income countries as well as in low- and middle-income countries. A special worrisome finding is the rise of lung cancer incidence and mortality in women.

The most common cancers are associated with smoking, overweight and obesity, unhealthy diets rich in animal fat and low in fruits and vegetables, and sedentary lifestyles. Other causes are related to pollution, infections, radiation, and other factors. GLOBOCAN 2018 is another call for action against the tobacco epidemic worldwide, more campaigns for better implementation of colorectal cancer screening with yearly rectal exams and stool occult blood testing, as well as recto-sigmoidoscopy every 5 to 10 years according to international guidelines. Breast cancer mortality has significantly decreased in high-income countries and many middle-income countries because of awareness campaigns, early detection and mammographic screening, in addition to improved management and treatment; campaigns and efforts should be increased everywhere. Awareness and vaccination for HPV as well as HBV are emphasized again. Better access to care is emphasized to reduce disparities in outcome.

The report is sending shockwaves around the world, and rightly so. All forms of media—TV and radio broadcasts, print and online newspapers and magazines, and social media—are paying lots of attention to it, reporting data pertinent to their own countries, and demanding action from health authorities. In Lebanon, for instance, concerned media reporters and anchors have been very loud. Interviews with physicians and health authorities are increased. Calls for more strict tobacco control are rising. Calls for improved screening, reducing westernized dietary habits and going back more to a Mediterranean diet, more physical activity, control of pollution, and relevant vaccinations are highlighted. Innovations for better and successful setup of cancer registries are in high demand, and IARC nicely emphasized this with the Global Initiative for Cancer Registry Development. Innovation and implementation of international cancer control plans and better access to care are in high demand to reduce the growing cancer epidemic.


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