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Huge rise in diagnosis of women’s cancer

Global breast cancer diagnoses more than double in 30 years

Louise Prime

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Diagnoses of women’s breast and cervical cancer have soared since 1980, with an estimated 2 million new cases globally, shows an analysis published today Online First in The Lancet.

The study, the first such worldwide analysis ever conducted, shows that the number of new breast cancer cases rose from 640,000 in 1980 to 1.6 million in 2010. Meanwhile the number of both diagnoses and deaths from cervical cancer fell – but the disease still claimed 200,000 women’s lives last year.

The researchers found that in 2010, just over half (51%) of the world’s new breast cancer diagnoses were made in developing countries, and more than three-quarters (76%) of the world’s new 425,000 cervical cancer diagnoses.

The authors point out: “If the trends of the past three decades were to continue during the next 15 years, the ratio of maternal deaths to breast and cervical cancer deaths in developing countries in the reproductive age group will decrease from 2.3 to 1.3.

” They argue that because the number of women of reproductive age who die from breast and cervical cancer has risen so sharply in developing countries, breast and cervical cancer must now be regarded as being of similarly high priority as maternal mortality.

The likelihood of a woman surviving breast cancer varies widely across the world. The authors say: “The complexity of the pattern for breast cancer and to a lesser extent for cervical cancer draws attention to the importance of building better surveillance systems. It also draws attention to the importance of the development of national control strategies for both cancers that show local epidemiological patterns and trends.”

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