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Report: Breast cancer now the most commonly diagnosed cancer globally

Report: Breast cancer now the most commonly diagnosed cancer globally
Female breast cancer has overtaken lung cancer as the most commonly diagnosed cancer globally, a new report has found. Photo by Rhoda Baer/Wikimedia Commons

Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Female breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the world, overtaking lung cancer, according to a report released Thursday by the American Cancer Society and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Of the 19.3 million new cancer cases in 2020, female breast cancer accounted for 2.3 million, or 12%, while lung cancer was involved in just over 11%, the report, Global Cancer Statistics 2020, showed.

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That marks the first time lung cancer was not the most commonly diagnosed cancer globally, the American Cancer Society said.

"Dramatic changes in lifestyle and built environment have had an impact on the prevalence of breast cancer risk factors such as excess body weight, physical inactivity, alcohol consumption, postponement of childbearing, fewer childbirths and less breastfeeding," the authors of the report wrote.

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"The increasing prevalence of these factors associated with social and economic transition results in a convergence toward the risk factor profile of transitioned countries and is narrowing international gaps in the breast cancer morbidity," they said.

Cancer ranks as a leading cause of death in every country in the world, according to the report.

One in five men and women worldwide develops cancer during their lifetimes and one in eight men and one in 11 women dies from the disease.

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Lung cancer remained the leading cause of cancer death in 2020 with an estimated 1.8 million, or 18%, of all deaths from the disease, followed by colorectal cancer, at 9%; liver cancer, at 8%; stomach cancer, at 8%; and female breast cancer, at 7%.

With about two-thirds of lung cancer deaths worldwide attributable to smoking, the disease can be largely prevented through effective tobacco control policies and regulations, the authors of the report said.

After female breast and lung cancers, colorectal, prostate and stomach cancers were the most commonly diagnosed last year at 10%, 7% and 6%, respectively.

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Researchers in the study estimate that 28.4 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed in 2040, a 47% rise from 2020 globally.

This growing rate of incidence could overwhelm health care systems, if left uncontrolled, highlighting the need for sustainable infrastructure for dissemination of proven cancer prevention measures and the provision of cancer care globally, they said.

"The burden of cancer incidence and mortality is rapidly growing worldwide, and reflects both aging and growth of the population, as well as changes in the prevalence and distribution of the main risk factors for cancer," report co-author Freddie Bray, head of cancer surveillance at the International Agency for Research on Cancer, said in a press release.

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