By 2035, an estimated 24 million people will be diagnosed with cancer. This tragic prognosis, released in a report by the United Nations, has brought greater awareness to its launch of World Cancer Day.
Currently 14 million people a year are diagnosed with cancer, but that number is expected to rise drastically in the next two decades. It is for this reason the UN is calling for more preventative actions on cancer be taken, rather than focusing solely on treatment solutions.
The UN encouraged countries to move toward enacting laws and restrictions on alcohol and sweets-which have been determined as cancer causing substances, the BBC reported. Radiation, obesity, infections, air pollution and smoking were also determined to be sources of cancer.
The report claims preventative measures, like banning the sources of cancer, can greatly reduce the number of people suffering from it.
“Adequate legislation can encourage healthier behavior, as well as having its recognized role in protecting people from workplace hazards and environmental pollutants,” said Dr. Bernard Stewart, who co-edited the report. “In low- and middle-income countries, it is critical that governments commit to enforcing regulatory measures to protect their populations and implement cancer prevention plans.”
In the past, cancer has been viewed as a 'first world' problem, however the report projects less developed countries to see the biggest rise in cancer cases, according to the BBC. This shift of cancer from developed to less developed countries is mainly due to the fact that the overall life span of individuals has risen across the globe, and yet many countries’ access to early detection technologies and treatment is still lagging.
The report indicated that prevention and treatments can complement each other in reducing the rise of cancer around the world.
"The most shocking thing about this report's prediction that 14 million cancer cases a year will rise to 22 million globally in the next 20 years is that up to half of all cases could be prevented," Cancer Research UK's director of tobacco control, Dr Jean King, told the BBC.
"It's clear that if we don't act now to curb the number of people getting cancer, we will be at the heart of a global crisis in cancer care within the next two decades," King said.