Cancer deaths are on the rise worldwide, according to the latest report from the World Health Organization. The report lists 8.2 million deaths from cancer globally in 2012, up from 7.6 million in 2008, an increase of about 8 percent. Over that same period, breast cancer deaths among women rose by 14 percent. A big part of these increases comes in developing countries that lack the quality healthcare necessary to properly diagnose and treat cancer.
Dr. Therese Bevers from Houston's M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is not surprised that the number of cancer deaths is growing in poorer countries. "They don't have the same access as do developed countries, to ways to prevent cancer, early detection, and even some of the treatments," she tells KTRH. That is evident in the rates of breast and cervical cancer deaths among women in developing nations. In Africa for instance, cervical cancer deaths among women are nearly 10 times the rate as in North America. Those numbers could be drastically reduced with use of screenings and vaccines widely available here. "We have a huge opportunity to implement some of the advances we have in developed countries like the U.S. into developing countries," says Dr. Bevers.
Another factor cited in the growing cancer rates overseas is a change in behavior. "This is because of shifts toward lifestyles that we tend to see in more developed or industrialized countries such as the U.S.," says Dr. Bevers. Those unhealthy lifestyles are associated with higher cancer risks, because of things like smoking, lack of exercise, and higher-fat diets. However, while America may have imported some bad habits to these countries, Dr. Bevers notes that we also have a chance to import the solution. "We need to work at implementing healthy lifestyles, screening, and treatments for other cancers into these developing countries," she says.