Cancer incidences have risen by more than 10 percent throughout the world, as more than 14.1 million new cases were diagnosed in 2012, up from 12.7 million in 2008, according to a report from the World Health Organization.
WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer also found the number of cancer-related deaths increased from 7.6 million in 2008 to 8.2 million in 2012. The most commonly diagnosed types of cancer were lung cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer, which made up 13 percent, 11.9 percent and 9.7 percent of the total, respectively.
In 2008, the world population was 6.7 billion, making the total number of new cancer cases about 0.19 percent of overall population. By 2012, the world population rose to 7.1 billion, with new cancer cases making up about 0.2 percent of the overall population.
But most striking, the report says, was the sharp rise in breast cancer worldwide. Since 2008, the researchers estimate that breast cancer incidence has increased by more than 20 percent, while mortality has increased by 14 percent. In 2012, there were 1.7 million new cases of breast cancer, in addition to the more than 6 million women already living with the disease.
By 2015, WHO predicts there will be more than 247,000 new cases of breast cancer in the United States, compared with about 232,700 in 2012. By 2020, that number could be up to more than 266,000. Additionally, in 2015, more than 108,000 of the new cases are expected to be among women under the age of 65.
"Breast cancer is also a leading cause of cancer death in the less developed countries of the
world," said David Forman, head of the IARC Section of Cancer Information, in a statement. "This is partly because 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."
Although breast cancer has been increasing worldwide, the report says there is a noticeable difference between poorer and wealthier countries.
In western Europe, for example, there are more than 90 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed per 100,000 women annually, and in eastern Africa, there are 30 new cases diagnosed per 100,000 women. But because the mortality rates are nearly identical, despite the fact that eastern Africa has a lower incidence rate, it suggests those cases are being diagnosed later on.
Christopher Wild, director of IARC, said in a statement there is "an urgent need in cancer control" to find a more affordable way to effectively identify, diagnose and treat breast cancer in less developed countries.
"It is critical to bring morbidity and mortality in line with progress made in recent years in more developed parts of the world," he said.
That problem can also be seen in the increase in cervical cancer cases worldwide, but particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer worldwide, and the fourth leading cause of death among women, but is much more prevalent in resource-strapped countries.
There are 34.8 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed per 100,000 women
annually in sub-Saharan Africa, and 22.5 per 100,000 women die from the disease. By comparison, there are 6.6 new cases of cervical cancer per 100,000 women in North America, and 2.5 per 100,000 women die from it.
"These findings bring into sharp focus the need to implement the tools already available for cervical cancer, notably HPV vaccination combined with well-organized national programmes for screening and treatment," Wild said.