Breast cancer is rising at an alarming rate as reported by researchers in the first global review of breast and cervical cancer.
The study was funded by the breast cancer groups, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
In the last three decades, the number of new breast cancer cases has increased from about 641,000 cases in 1980 to 1.6 million cases in 2010. This alarming rate requires immediate adherence of necessary steps by world leaders and public health experts such as screening, treatment and education in poor nations, urged scientists.
For many years it was believed that young women in poor countries had more chances of maternal mortality but current trends proved that the number of women dying of breast and cervical cancer is more than those dying during childbirth. In sharp contrast, women in developed countries did better due to regular screening, vaccines, drug therapies and anti-smoking policies, reported the U.S. experts in the Lancet.
According to the new global statistics, officially, 343,000 women die during childbirth every year while breast and cervical cancer kill 625,000 women worldwide. Although the number of cases increased in last three decades, the number of deaths due to breast and cervical cancer dropped, suggested reports.
“People may wonder what the urgency is in addressing these cancers, but the numbers are staggering. It's like six jumbo jets crashing every day,'' said Jan Coebergh, a cancer specialist at Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, who wrote an accompanying commentary to the study.
According to the researchers of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, Seattle, factors that made the breast and cervical cancer situation staggering are aging population, habits like smoking, eating junk and sedentary lifestyle.
We have poured an enormous amount of resources into addressing the serious concern of maternal mortality worldwide, and we've seen a great deal of progress, said study co-author, Dr Alan Lopez, of the University of Queensland, Australia.
The research in 187 countries for the period 1980-2010 showed that in the UK, the rate of death from breast cancer dropped from 1 in 32 in 1980, to 1 in 47 by 2010. Some poor countries, however, showed a reverse trend. In Rwanda, the rate of death increased from 1 in 97 in 1980 to 1 in 60 in 2010.
While talking about cervical cancer, Dr. Lopez said our concern is that this is a disease that is almost entirely preventable through safe sex practices and early detection, yet it continues to kill nearly a half a million women every year. With the right investments and targeted policies, like the ones we have seen in places such as the UK, we can reverse this trend.