Breast and cervical cancers kill 625,000 women worldwide every year, reported researchers in the first global review of breast and cervical cancer.
The last three decades saw a sharp rise in the number of new breast cancer cases that has increased from about 641,000 cases in 1980 to 1.6 million cases in 2010.
This rate is alarming and requires immediate attention from world leaders and public health experts and strict precautionary steps such as screening, treatment and education in poor nations should be put in place, said scientists.
Contrary to the years-long belief that young women in poor countries had more chances of maternal mortality, the current trends show that the number of women dying of breast and cervical cancers is more than those dying during childbirth.
According to the new global statistics, officially, 343,000 women die during childbirth every year while breast and cervical cancers kill 625,000 women worldwide. Although the number of cases increased in last three decades, the number of deaths due to breast and cervical cancers dropped, suggested reports.
The health situation of women in developed countries, however, is little better due to regular screening, vaccines, drug therapies and anti-smoking policies, reported the U.S. experts in the Lancet.
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, Netherlands, 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 aggravate the breast and cervical cancer situation are aging population, habits like smoking, eating junk food 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.
As for cervical cancer, 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.
The study was funded by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.