By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos
Breast cancer has now overtaken lung cancer as the world’s mostly commonly-diagnosed cancer.
The reality of rising global breast cancer burden was disclosed in the statistics released by International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in December 2020.
In demonstration of concern to tackle the menace, World Health Organization (WHO) hosted the first of a series of consultations on year 2021 World Cancer Day in order to establish a new global breast cancer initiative, which will be launched later in year 2021.
“This collaborative effort between WHO, IARC, the International Atomic Energy Agency and other multi-sectoral partners, will reduce deaths from breast cancer by promoting breast health, improving timely cancer detection and ensuring access to quality care,” WHO explained.
WHO said it is working with the cancer community in responding with renewed urgency to address breast cancer and to respond to the growing cancer burden globally that is straining individuals, communities and health systems.
According to it, in the past two decades, the overall number of people diagnosed with cancer nearly doubled, from an estimated 10 million in 2000 to 19.3 million in 2020.
“Today, one in 5 people worldwide will develop cancer during their lifetime. Projections suggest that the number of people being diagnosed with cancer will increase still further in the coming years, and will be nearly 50% higher in 2040 than in 2020,” the international authority on public health said.
It pointed out that the number of deaths from cancer has also increased, from 6.2 million in year 2000 to 10 million in 2020, and highlighted that more than one out of every six deaths is due to cancer.
While changes in lifestyle, such as unhealthy diets, insufficient physical activity, use of tobacco and harmful use of alcohol, have all contributed to the increasing cancer burden, a significant proportion can also be attributed to increasing longevity, as the risk of developing cancer increases with age, the United Nations (UN) agency clarified.
It urged countries to reinforce the need to invest in both cancer prevention and cancer control, focusing on actionable cancers like breast, cervical and childhood cancers.
WHO is disturbed that late diagnosis and lack of access to treatment exacerbated by Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic are having negative impact on the fight against cancer.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problems of late-stage diagnosis and lack of access to treatment. These occur everywhere but particularly in low- and middle-income countries. In addition to having to cope with the disruption of services, people living with cancer are also at higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness and death,” WHO elaborated in news release dated 3rd February 2021.