Millions of Healthy Years of Life Lost to Cancer Worldwide10/16/12
MONDAY, Oct. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly 170 million years of
healthy life were lost worldwide due to cancer in 2008, according
to a new study.
Researchers analyzed cancer registries from around the world and
used a measure called disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) to
assess not only the impact of fatal cancer, but also the effects of
disabilities among cancer survivors, such as breast loss due to
breast cancer or infertility due to cervical cancer.
Along with finding that 169.3 million years of healthy life were
lost due to cancer in 2008, the researchers also determined that
men in eastern Europe had the largest cancer burden worldwide
(3,146 age-adjusted DALYs lost per 100,000 men). Among women, the
highest burden was in sub-Saharan Africa (2,749 age-adjusted DALYs
lost per 100,000 women).
Colorectal, lung, breast and prostate cancers were the main
contributors to total DALYs in most areas, accounting for 18
percent to 50 percent of total cancer burden. Infection-related
cancers such as liver, stomach and cervical cancers accounted for a
larger part of overall DALYs in eastern Asia (27 percent of all
cancers) and in sub-Saharan Africa (25 percent of all cancers) than
in other regions.
In addition, the study revealed that improved access to
high-quality treatment has not improved survival for a number of
common cancers associated with poor outcomes, especially lung,
stomach, liver and pancreatic cancers. This points to the crucial
role that prevention needs to play if the worldwide cancer burden
is to be reduced, said Dr. Isabelle Soerjomataram, of the
International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France,
The researchers also found higher average levels of premature
death due to cancer in lower-income countries and higher average
levels of cancer-related disability and impairment in higher-income
The study was published online Oct. 15 in the journal
"Our findings illustrate quite starkly how cancer is already a barrier to sustainable development in many of the poorest countries across the world and this will only be exacerbated in the coming years if cancer control is neglected," study co-author Dr. Freddy Bay, deputy head of IARC's Section of Cancer Information, said in a journal news release.
Tackling the growing cancer burden in low- and middle-income
countries will require a major coordinated effort by many public
and private sector partners, "including national and international
public health agencies, health industries, philanthropic and
government donors, and local and regional policymakers," Dr.
Ahmedin Jemal, of the American Cancer Society, wrote in an
The World Health Organization has more about
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