Research from the Seattle-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) shows that 2 million women around the world are developing breast or cervical cancer every year. These numbers are so high that experts speculate that deaths from these two diseases soon match those from “maternal mortality” in pregnancy and childbirth.
Many of these cancers are on the rise in poorer countries, where women don’t have the benefit of early cancer screenings, drug therapies, vaccines, and quick access to treatment. Of primary concern is the disturbing rise of breast cancer among young women – ages 15 to 49.
Basic cancer prevention and care does not have to be hugely expensive. Cancer screening and the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine that is now given to girls in the UK and other developed countries could prevent many cases of cervical cancer around the globe.
Between 1980 and 2010, the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer increased more than two and a half times from 641,000 to 1.6 million a year. The rise is happening in every country, the IHME paper says. Cases have risen most slowly in developed countries, like the UK and the United States, but a woman’s lifetime risk is higher in western Europe, north America and Australasia where it is more than one in 10.