New Cancer Atlas Indicates That Progress in Fighting Cancer is Possible and Achievable

New Cancer Atlas Indicates That Progress in Fighting Cancer is Possible and Achievable

by Dr. Kaushik Bharati on Oct 17 2019 3:50 PM
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  • The new 3rd edition of the Cancer Atlas has been published
  • It focuses on improving access to information and services specific to cancer
  • The major objective of the new Cancer Atlas is to reduce the global burden of cancer
The new Cancer Atlas (3rd edition) is a comprehensive overview of cancer worldwide. It indicates that tackling cancer is not only possible, but also an achievable goal. The report was developed by the American Cancer Society (ACS), Atlanta, USA, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), Geneva, Switzerland, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Lyon, France. It was released at the World Cancer Leaders’ Summit, held on 15-17 October, 2019 at the Kazakh Institute of Oncology and Radiology (KazIOR) in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.


Key Features of the Cancer Atlas

The theme of the new 3rd edition of the Cancer Atlas is ‘Access Creates Progress,’ which not only draws attention to the current global cancer situation, but also provides guidance on how to tackle the problem by means of greater access to information and cancer services. The Cancer Atlas has the following key features:
  • It provides global cancer burden data that is simple, easy to understand and access
  • It targets governments, cancer advocacy groups, public health agencies, policymakers, cancer patients/survivors, and the general public
  • It is available in both print as well as electronic formats


Key Data Presented in the Cancer Atlas

  • Cancer is the leading or second-leading cause of premature death under the age of 70 years in 91 countries
  • Cancer cases will increase by 60 percent by 2040
  • Major drivers of cancer are smoking, physical inactivity and unhealthy diet
  • Tobacco is responsible for the highest number of preventable cancer deaths
  • 1.1 billion smokers are currently present worldwide
  • 2.3 million cancer deaths (24% of all cancer deaths) are caused by smoking
  • 1.5 billion people across 55 countries are currently protected by smoke-free laws
  • 15 percent of all new cancer cases are caused by infectious agents
  • Infectious agents are responsible for 4 percent of new cancer cases in very high-income countries and 50 percent of new cancer cases in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Four major cancer-causing infectious agents are Helicobacter pylori, Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), and Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)
  • H. pylori, HPV, HBV, and HCV account for 90 percent of all infection-related cancers
  • Excess body weight is linked to 13 types of cancer, accounting for 3.6 percent of all new cancer cases in adults
  • Obesity will increase the cancer burden in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in the Middle East, Asia, and Oceania in the coming years
  • 4.2 percent of all cancer deaths are due to alcohol
  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, accounting for 1 in 4 new cancer cases among women
  • Lifetime risk of breast cancer is 3-times higher in high-income countries than low-income countries
  • 270,000 children are diagnosed with cancer annually
  • Five-year survival from childhood cancer is 80 percent in high-income countries and 20 percent in low-income countries
  • Childhood cancer survival can be increased to 60 percent in low-income countries by improving diagnosis and treatment
  • 44 million cervical cancer cases will occur worldwide over the next 50 years as per current trends
  • 13 million cervical cancer cases can be averted by 2069 by improving screening and vaccination coverage
  • 3-6 percent of cancers are caused by exposure to carcinogens at the workplace
  • 500,000 lung cancer deaths occur annually due to outdoor air pollution
  • Outdoor air pollution is highest in cities undergoing rapid urbanization in LMICs
  • Diesel exhaust – a confirmed carcinogen – is a leading cause of occupational lung cancer and outdoor air pollution
  • Radiotherapy is indicated in 60 percent of cancer patients as a stand-alone therapy or as an adjunct therapy to prevent recurrence after surgery
  • Radiotherapy coverage is sub-optimal in LMICs like Ethiopia, where a single radiotherapy center serves 100 million people


Expert Comments

“This much is clear,” writes ACS Chief Executive Officer Gary M. Reedy, BSc, DHL (honoris causa), in the report’s foreword. “We simply must do better to ensure everyone can benefit from advances in the fight against cancer. As you will see in the pages of this Cancer Atlas, 3rd edition, progress is not only possible, but also achievable.”

“The Cancer Atlas has proved to be an outstanding publication in the past, helping the cancer community communicate the progress we have or have not made, the challenges we face and the areas of focus for future years,” writes Cary Adams, BSc (Hons), MBA, Chief Executive Officer of UICC. “Its beautifully crafted presentations of facts and evidence help us construct compelling messages to better articulate the problem and present solutions. This new edition will once again be circulated widely and inspire those of us who want to see changes happen.”

“Cancer is an issue of sustainable development,” writes Dr. Elisabete Weiderpass, MD, MSc, PhD, Director of IARC. “Facing the cancer problem is a prerequisite for addressing social and economic inequities, stimulating economic growth, and accelerating sustainable development. I hope that this book will find widespread use, because prevention is, and should continue to be, the first line of attack in tackling the challenges posed by the global cancer epidemic.”

Funding Source

The collection of data and preparation of the Cancer Atlas was funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

  1. The Cancer Atlas - (