More Than 14 Million Global Cancer Cases Yearly

This is not good: the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer reports that the number of global cancer diagnoses each year has risen to over 14 million. That's a rise of over 1 million cases from 2008, when the global annual number was 12.7 million per year. According to researchers, the reasons for the rise are twofold: first, there is a documented increase in rates of smoking and obesity, both risk factors for cancer, and second, people are living longer, giving more time for cancer to manifest.

Coming in alongside the rise in smoking is data that lung cancer is the most common cancer around the world, accounting for 1.8 million cases, or about 13 percent of the total. And breast cancer also saw a sharp rise, making it the most commonly found cancer in women — but unfortunately, mortality rates for breast cancer have also increased.

"Breast cancer is also a leading cause of cancer death in the less developed countries of the world," said WHO's David Forman. "This is partly because a shift in lifestyles is causing an increase in incidence, and partly because clinical advances to combat the disease are not reaching women living in these regions."

But it gets worse: WHO predicts that in about ten years (by 2025), the number of annual cancer cases worldwide will be a whopping 19 million. That's almost double the population of Belgium!

Perhaps part of it could be explained by better screening technology, treatments, and earlier detection. But, the rates of diagnosis grow alongside mortality rates. The global death toll from cancer was 8.2 million in 2012, up eight percent from 7.6 in 2008.

The WHO says that the rise in mortality, which is especially pronounced among breast cancer patients, may be caused by the fact that while diagnoses are increasing in developing parts of the world, the most sophisticated, expensive treatments aren't yet reaching women there.

But the most common causes of cancer deaths were lung, liver, and stomach cancers.

"An urgent need in cancer control today is to develop effective and affordable approaches to the early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of breast cancer among women living in less developed countries," said the IARC's Christopher Wild. "These findings bring into sharp focus the need to implement the tools already available for cervical cancer, notably HPV vaccination combined with well organized national programs for screening and treatment."