World Cancer Day Special

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in just year 2018.

Most common cancers (2018 world-wide):

Lung (2.09 million cases)

Breast (2.09 million cases)

Colorectal (1.80 million cases)

Prostate (1.28 million cases)

Skin cancer (non-melanoma) (1.04 million cases)

Stomach (1.03 million cases)

Most deadly cancers:

Lung (1.76 million deaths)

Colorectal (862 000 deaths)

Stomach (783 000 deaths)

Liver (782 000 deaths)

Breast (627 000 deaths)

Common causes of cancers:

Tobacco use, alcohol use, unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity are major cancer risk factors worldwide and are also theses 4 shared risk factors for other noncommunicable diseases. Some chronic infections are risk factors for cancer and have major relevance in low- and middle-income countries.

Approximately 15% of cancers diagnosed in 2012 were attributed to carcinogenic infections, including Helicobacter pylori, Human papillomavirus (HPV), Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus, and Epstein-Barr virus3. Hepatitis B and C virus and some types of HPV increase the risk for liver and cervical cancer, respectively. Infection with HIV substantially increases the risk of cancers such as cervical cancer.


• Vaccinate against HPV and hepatitis B virus;
• Control occupational hazards;
• Reduce exposure to ultraviolet radiation;
• Reduce exposure to ionizing radiation (occupational or medical diagnostic imaging).

Vaccination against these HPV and hepatitis B viruses could prevent 1 million cancer cases each year.

Modifying or avoiding key risk factors can significantly reduce the burden of cancer. These risk factors include:
• Tobacco use including cigarettes and smokeless tobacco
• Being overweight or obese
• Unhealthy diet with low fruit and vegetable intake
• Lack of physical activity
• Alcohol use
• Sexually transmitted HPV-infection
• Infection by hepatitis or other carcinogenic infections
• Ionizing and ultraviolet radiation
• Urban air pollution
• Indoor smoke from household use of solid fuels.

Tobacco use is the single most important risk factor for cancer and is responsible for approximately 22% of cancer-related deaths globally.


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