Cancer Epidemiology

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

Cancers kill thousands of people worldwide. In the United States, for example, cancers form 25% of all deaths. It is also a major health problem in many parts of the world. In the developed world, one in three people will develop cancer during their lifetimes.

Cancer can also occur in young children and adolescents, but it is rare (about 150 cases per million in the U.S.). Among children, leukemia is the commonest cancer and the next common cancer in children is brain cancers (notably neuroblastoma).

Furthermore around one third of cancers worldwide are due to potentially modifiable risk factors, which are headed by tobacco smoking, alcohol use, and diets low in fruit and vegetables. In addition, being obese and having a sexually transmitted infection are also risk factors for cancers.

Cancer statistics in the USA

Common cancers among men include prostate cancers (144.8 per 100,000 people) and lung cancer (79.5 per 100,000 people). Lung cancer is the second most common cancer among white, black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Asian/Pacific Islander men and third among Hispanic men.

The third most common cancer among men is Colorectal cancer (51.6 per 100,000 people) that is second among Hispanic men, third among white, black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Asian/Pacific Islander men. The leading causes of cancer death among men are lung cancer (64.0 per 100,000 people), Prostate cancer (22.8 per 100,000 people), Liver cancer and colorectal cancer (19.7 per 100,000 people).

Among women the three common cancers are breast cancer (121.9 per 100,000 people), lung cancer (54.5 per 100,000 people) and colorectal cancer (38.7 per 100,000 people). Breast cancer is the first common cancer among women of all races and Hispanic origin populations. Lung cancer is second among white, black, and American Indian/Alaska Native women, and third among Asian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic women and colorectal cancer is second among Asian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic women and third among white, black, and American Indian/Alaska Native women.

Among women the leading cause of cancer deaths is lung cancer (39.0 per 100,000 people), breast cancer (22.5 per 100,000 people) and colorectal cancer (13.8 per 100,000 people). Survival rate for many common cancers has increased in the past two decades.

Cancer statistics in United Kingdom

Overall there are more than 200 types of cancer and in 2009, 320,500 new cases of cancer were detected in UK. Around 800 people were diagnosed every day. More than 1 in 3 people in the UK will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. Over half of these new cancers are either breast, lung, bowel or prostate cancers.

More than three out of five cancers are diagnosed in people aged 65 and over. Around 1% of all cancers affect children, teenagers and young adults.

Cancer causes more than one in four of all deaths in the UK and more than three-quarters of cancer deaths occur in people aged 65 and over. More than one in five of all cancer deaths are from lung cancer. Survival rate for many common cancers has increased in the past two decades.

Cancer statistics in Australia

In Australia, an estimated 121,500 new cases are diagnosed in 2012. The number is estimated to rise to 150,000 by 2020. This means that 1 in 2 Australian men and 1 in 3 Australian women will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85. In addition, cancer is a leading cause of death in Australia and in 2012 more than 43,000 people died of cancer.

Survival rate for many common cancers has increased by 30 per cent in the past two decades.

The most common cancers in Australia excluding non-melanoma skin cancer are prostate, colorectal, breast, melanoma and lung cancer.

Reviewed by April Cashin-Garbutt, BA Hons (Cantab)

Sources

  1. http://www.cdc.gov/features/cancerstatistics/
  2. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@epidemiologysurveilance/documents/document/acspc-029771.pdf
  3. http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/cancerstats/keyfacts/Allcancerscombined/
  4. http://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/what-is-cancer/facts-and-figures.html

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