NEW YORK: The World Health Organization (WHO) says more women are being diagnosed with and dying from breast cancer in less developed countries, including the Caribbean.
Last week, the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), said 1.7 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, an increase of 20 per cent since 2008.
The mortality rate also rose 14 per cent over that time period, with 522,000 deaths last year.
“A shift in lifestyles is causing an increase in incidence, and partly because clinical advances to combat the disease are not reaching women living in these regions,” said David Forman, head of the IARC Section of Cancer Information, explaining why the disease is also affecting women in less developed countries.
The WHO has called for greater attention to prevention and control measures to offset lifestyle changes.
A shift towards lifestyles typical of industrialized countries “leads to a rising burden of cancers associated with reproductive, dietary, and hormonal risk factors”, the agency said.
The WHO said although incidence rates remain highest in more developed regions, mortality is relatively higher in the Caribbean and other developing countries due to a lack of early detection and access to treatment facilities.
IARC said that trend extends to all types of cancer. Nearly 57 per cent of instances and 65 per cent of deaths last year were reported in less developed countries, a tendency expected to further increase by 2025.
“An urgent need in cancer control today is to develop effective and affordable approaches to the early detection, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer among women living in less developed countries as a way of bringing the rates of instances and mortality in line with progress made in more developed parts of the world,” said IARC director Christopher Wild.
In addition, Wild said cervical cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer affecting women, after breast, colorectal and lung cancer, particularly in areas with lower levels of development, which lack access to effective screening and where the HPV vaccine and other services are not available.
The IARC said an estimated 14.1 million people developed cancer last year and 8.2 million died of cancer-related reasons. Those figures are a significant increase from 2008, when 12.7 million new instances and 7.6 million deadly cases were recorded.
Reviewing information for 28 types of cancer in 184 countries, IARC found that the most commonly diagnosed cancers worldwide in men and women combined were lung, breast and colorectal cancers.
The most common causes of cancer death were lung, liver and stomach cancers.