Social Impact of Cancer “Staggering”

Social Impact of Cancer “Staggering” Social Impact of Cancer “Staggering”

Authors of a major report on the worldwide numbers of cancer cases and deaths have provided “insights to the disease burden that previously could only be loosely approximated” - finding that cancer represents a still growing proportion of all deaths, accounting for over 8 million in 2013.

The JAMA Oncology global burden of cancer report is compiled by researchers collaborating from around the world, finding that worldwide in 2013, there were: 15 million new cases of cancer; over 8 million deaths from the disease and about 196 million years of healthy life lost.

In spite of scientific advances, the overall results suggest a trend towards more cancer. In 1990, cancer deaths made up 12% of all mortality, but this proportion grew up until 2013, when it reached 15%, reports Medical News Today.

There was a similarly growing morbidity. During the same period, the total amount of lost years of healthy life created by all cancers rose globally by 29%.

Researchers drew their data from a range of global sources - cancer registries, vital records registries, verbal autopsy reports and other sources of data on all causes of death.

  Disease Burden

The analysis covers 28 cancers and 188 countries. While cancer and vital records registries provided sparse data in many countries, an editorial commenting on the study says:

“These mathematically rigorous and elegant methods provide insights to disease burden that previously could only loosely be approximated.”

The commentary is co-written by Dr. Benjamin Anderson, of the surgery department at the University of Washington in Seattle, and Dr. John Flanigan of the National Cancer Institute’s center for global health in Rockville, MD.

The authors pick up on the “staggering” social impact of cancer in developing nations. Counted in healthy years lost, as measured by disability-adjusted life-years, this burden is created by “significant disability prior to death.”

The study’s findings on the burden in less developed countries are that these nations account for: over half or 56% of new cancer cases; over 60% of cancer deaths; over two-thirds or 69% of cancer-caused years of lost health, measured in disability-adjusted life-years.

Anderson and Flanigan describe the global loss - in 2013 alone - of over 196 million disability-adjusted life-years as “astonishing.”

They suggest that the focus needs to move away from the cancer control recommendations made by the UN and the World Health Organization (WHO), which “have been largely limited to prevention strategies and only superficially address cancer diagnosis and treatment strategies.”

The new analysis of cancer figures was produced by dozens of researchers worldwide working together as the Global Burden of Disease Cancer Collaboration.