David Forman, bead of the IARC Section of Cancer Information, the group that compiles the global cancer data for the U.N.'s World Health Organization, said Thursday the increase in cancer was largely fueled by an increased of women diagnosed with and dying from breast cancer.
Some 1.7 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer, a 20 percent increased from 2008, the IARC said.
A shift towards lifestyles typical of industrialized countries "leads to a rising burden of cancers associated with reproductive, dietary and hormonal risk factors, Forman said.
"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," Forman, said in a statement, explaining why breast cancer is also affecting women in less developed countries.
Incidence rates remain highest in more developed regions, but mortality is relatively higher in developing countries due to a lack of early detection and access to treatment facilities, Forman said.
Reviewing information for 28 types of cancer in 184 countries, the IARC found 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, the agency said.