grossi1_Fred MutuneXinhua via Getty Images_africacancertreatment Fred Mutune/Xinhua via Getty Images

Going Nuclear Against Rising Cancer Cases

Despite the pandemic, deaths from noncommunicable diseases like cancer have been outpacing deaths from communicable diseases, partly owing to a lack of access to radiotherapy in low- and middle-income countries. To account for this epidemiological shift, the world must refocus its attention – and its investment – accordingly.

VIENNA – Advances in cancer care have yielded enormous benefits and saved millions of lives. Between 2000 and 2015, high-income countries cut cancer patients’ probability of dying from the disease by 20%.

But this progress has eluded much of the rest of the world, thereby deepening longstanding global inequalities. And the problem is getting worse. Seven of every ten people who will die from cancer in the coming two decades will be in low- and middle-income countries, many of which lack even the basic tools to address the crisis they face. By 2040, cancer will kill 11 million people annually in these countries.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, there were nearly 1.5 million cancer cases in 2020. By 2040, annual cases are expected to rise by almost one million, with annual deaths increasing from 713,000 to 1.25 million. Likewise, Africa, which already has a cancer death rate 30% above the global average, will experience a surge in cases in the coming decades.

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