Those numbers — a marked increase from just six years ago, when cancer diagnoses were estimated at 14.1 million, and deaths at 8.2 million — reflect the world’s aging and growing population.
Lung cancer is this year’s leading cause of both projected diagnoses (2.1 million) and deaths (1.8 million) worldwide, according to the report.
It’s still far more prevalent in men than women — around 1.3 million cases in men this year, versus about 725,000 in women — but the IARC says there’s a “worrying rise” in lung cancer among female patients, perhaps driven by countries where public smoking cessation campaigns haven’t yet taken hold.
Nearly half of new cancer diagnoses, and more than half of deaths, are likely to occur in Asia, which is home to about 60% of the world’s population, according to the study.
Meanwhile, Africa accounts for only 5.8% of global cancer cases but 7.3% of deaths, in part because poor-prognosis diseases are common there, and in part because access to care is lacking in many areas.
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