Cancer Cases Projected To Rise Greatly In The Future 

According to a new report from the American Cancer Society, cancer cases are expected to rise exponentially in the future. In fact, they’ve estimated that by 2050, the number of people with cancer could rise by 77%. 

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The American Cancer Society (ACS) has released a new report that predicts by the year 2050, the number of people with cancer in the world could rise by 77%. The report was published last week in the journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians

The report also stated that in 2022, around 20 million cases of cancer were diagnosed, and 9.7 million people died from their cancer. Using that data, ACS estimated that around 1 in 5 people who are currently alive will now develop cancer within their lifetime; 1 in 9 men and 1 in 12 women will die from the disease based on the 2022 data. 

Dr. William Dahut, chief scientific officer for the American Cancer Society, stated that the number of cases around the world “will go up to 35 million by 2050, largely due to an increasing population in the aging population.” 

Population growth and aging are cited as the “key drivers” of the rise in cancer cases. Additionally, more people are using tobacco and experiencing obesity along with other risk factors for cancer, especially in lower income areas of the world, according to Dahut. 

“A lot of the drivers for cancer that we’ve traditionally seen in high-income countries, such as tobacco and obesity, these same cancer drivers are now moving into the low-income countries,” Dahut said.

“We’re worried that we’re going to see increased incidence rates, increased mortality rates, particularly in low-income countries, where cancers are now being driven not only by traditional cancer drivers but also by external things such as tobacco and obesity.”

The Global Cancer Observatory, a database for the World Health Organization, also provided worldwide data for the new report. The data showed that in 2022, lung cancer was the most frequently diagnosed, with almost 2.5 million new cases and more than 1.8 million deaths, according to CNN Health

“The most common cancer types are lung, breast in women, colorectal, prostate, stomach, liver, thyroid, cervical, bladder and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Lung cancer was also the leading cause of cancer deaths, followed by colorectal, liver, breast in women, stomach, pancreatic, esophagus, prostate, cervical and leukemia,” according to CNN.

“With more than half of cancer deaths worldwide being potentially preventable, prevention offers the most cost-effective and sustainable strategy for cancer control. Elimination of tobacco use alone could prevent 1 in 4 cancer deaths or approximately 2.6 million cancer deaths annually,”  said Dr. Ahmedin Jemal, senior vice president of surveillance & health equity science at the American Cancer Society and senior author of the study. 

“Even though the causes of cancer can be complex, genetic or environmental, about 50% of cancers are preventable,” Dr. Bilal Siddiqui, an oncologist and assistant professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, stated to CNN

“All patients should talk to their doctors to ensure they receive age-appropriate cancer screenings, and it’s important to make the key lifestyle changes that can reduce our risk for cancer, including stopping smoking, reducing alcohol intake, and staying physically active,” he said.

Prostate cancer specifically is becoming a major concern for medical professionals. In another report published in the journal The Lancet, the number of new prostate cancer cases is likely to rise to 2.9 million a year, between now and 2040; the current rate is around 1.4 million new cases a year. 

“In terms of the overall global health burden of prostate cancer, I think the numbers are somewhat surprising but expected at the same time. Globally, the population is aging, and prostate cancer is primarily a disease of aging,” said Dr. Brandon Mahal, radiation oncologist and translational epidemiologist at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, who was an author of the new report.

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“As we continue to increase life expectancy, especially in low- and middle-income countries, you can expect that diseases of aging – specifically, such as a common cancer like prostate cancer – would become a greater burden.”

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The new report emphasized “four of the highest-priority areas” that relate to prostate cancer and ways to detect it early and motivate people to get themselves checked regularly. It recommends improving the methods that will work to empower patients with health information, and implementing more specified target guidelines for therapies like surgery and radiotherapy. 

“[There is a] critical need for strategies for early diagnosis and effective treatment of this disease,” said Dr. Siddiqui.

“The Commission made four recommendations to help improve diagnosis and management and reduce death from prostate cancer. These are smart solutions that our governments and health care funding agencies should support and could help reduce lives lost due to prostate cancer,” he continued. 

The American Cancer Society report stated that the main cause of lung cancer is still tobacco. 

“While we do see lung cancers that are not related to smoking, the number one cause of lung cancer is smoking. And so obviously, there’s still much work to be done in the US and everywhere to continue to address the epidemic of smoking,” said Dr. Harold Burstein, an oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and professor at Harvard Medical School.

“Interestingly, pollution and other airborne environmental exposures probably increase the risk of lung cancer in many parts of the world. And so efforts to improve clean air or to reduce exposure to airborne pollution is another really important thing to think about,” Burstein said.

“Other things that people can do to reduce their cancer mortality include screening for early cancer detection and better outcomes. In the US, we have very vigorous opportunities for screening with mammography, colonoscopy and Pap smears, but these are still often under-utilized by many parts of our society. In the more advanced economies, like the US, we have seen remarkable declines in the rates of mortality from breast cancer and colon cancer, probably about half of that due to early detection,” he said.