May 9 (UPI) -- Global cancer cases are expected to climb drastically over the next 20 years, leading to a high demand for chemotherapy, a new study says.
By 2040, the number of people worldwide who will need chemotherapy to treat cancer could grow to 15 million, according to new research published Wednesday in the Lancet. That would be a 53 percent increase from 9.8 million in 2018.
"The rising global cancer burden is undoubtedly one of the major health crises of today," Brooke Wilson, a researcher at the University of New South Wales who authored the study, said in a news release. "Strategies are urgently needed to equip the global health workforce to enable safe treatment of current and future patients."
To calculate these numbers, the researchers applied clinical best practices guidelines, cancer stage numbers and other data from the United States and Australia to global cases of pediatric and adult cancer estimates.
By 2040, lung, breast and colorectal cancers will account for more than 40 percent of the chemotherapy requirements worldwide, the researchers say.
The researchers estimated that up to 150,000 physicians may be needed worldwide to administer chemotherapy to cancer patients within the next 20 years.
About 35 percent of those new patients will live in eastern Asia, while 12 percent will reside in south central Asia and 10 percent will live in North America.
Most of the patients will live in low- to middle-income countries. The researchers say that various factors, including price and lack of access, may prevent people in some countries from receiving optimal chemotherapy care.
"All in all, this study will help to further guide policymakers and stakeholders in priority settings involved in setting up health infrastructure and strengthening and educating the future workforce," Melina Arnold, a researcher at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France, said in a news release. "To leverage the full potential of this type of global prediction study, it would be useful to estimate costs of and strategies for scaling up health services for optimal patient management, not only for chemotherapy but also throughout the full continuum of cancer care."