Cancer affects everyone – the young and old, the rich and poor, men, women and children – and represents a tremendous burden on patients, families and societies. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the world, particularly in developing countries.
Yet, many of these deaths can be avoided. Over 30% of cancer can be prevented by healthy life style or by immunization against cancer causing infections ( HBV, HPV). Others can be detected early, treated and cured. Even with late stage cancer, the suffering of patients can be relieved with good palliative care.
There are more than 100 types of cancers; any part of the body can be affected.
In 2008, 7.6 million people died of cancer – 13% of all deaths worldwide.
About 70% of all cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
Worldwide, the 5 most common types of cancer that kill men are (in order of frequency): lung, stomach, liver, colorectal and oesophagus.
Worldwide, the 5 most common types of cancer that kill women are (in the order of frequency): breast, lung, stomach, colorectal and cervical. In many developing countries, cervical cancer is the most common cancer.
Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of cancer in the world causing 22% of cancer deaths
One fifth of all cancers worldwide are caused by a chronic infection, for example human papillomavirus (HPV) causes cervical cancer and hepatitis B virus (HBV) causes liver cancer.
Cancers of major public health relevance such as breast, cervical and colorectal cancer can be cured if detected early and treated adequately.
All patients in need of pain relief could be helped if current knowledge about pain control and palliative care were applied.
More than 30% of cancer could be prevented, mainly by not using tobacco, having a healthy diet, being physically active and moderating the use of alcohol. In developing countries up to 20% of cancer deaths could be prevented by immunization against the infection of HBV and HPV.