SEATTLE – Breast cancer accounts for the highest number of new cancer cases among women in Ethiopia, and prostate cancer has the highest number of incident cancer cases for men, according to a new study in the journal JAMA Oncology. But cervical cancer claims more lives than any other cancer in the country.
The number of new prostate cancer cases in Ethiopia more than tripled between 1990 and 2013, up from 2,500 to 8,200. During this period breast cancer cases more than doubled, from 3,900 to 9,000.
Among the leading causes of cancer incidence among men, stomach cancer had the lowest increase since 1990 at 22% and prostate cancer the highest at 225%. For women, cervical cancer had the lowest increase in the number of new cases during this time period at 8%, and breast cancer had one of the highest increases at 132%.
Published on May 28, the study, “The Global Burden of Cancer 2013,” was conducted by an international consortium of researchers coordinated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.
In Ethiopia, colorectal cancer was the leading cause of cancer deaths for men, and cervical cancer was the top cause of cancer deaths for women. Male deaths from colorectal cancer outnumbered deaths from other cancers in Ethiopia, at 2,200 in 2013, while cervical cancer took more female lives than other cancers, at 6,500.
“Cancer is a growing threat to people’s health around the world,” said Azmeraw T. Amare, a study co-author and lecturer and researcher at Bahir Dar University (Ethiopia) and a PhD fellow in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Groningen (the Netherlands). “The number of deaths due to cervical cancer is alarming. Effective cancer treatment and prevention measures are vital to improve health in Ethiopia.”
For the leading causes of cancer deaths among Ethiopian men, deaths from lymphoma increased by 89%, compared to a 21% increase from esophageal cancer, which was the smallest increase. Deaths from ovarian cancer in women jumped by 114%, while cervical cancer showed the smallest increase in cancer deaths at 14%.
Ethiopia differed from most other countries with respect to new cases of cervical cancer and esophageal cancer. Cervical cancer ranked seventh in the top 10 for incident cases globally but ranked second in Ethiopia. In addition, esophageal cancer ranked ninth in the top cancers for incident cases globally but ranked fifth in Ethiopia.
In 2013, there were 14.9 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million cancer deaths worldwide. The leading cause of cancer incidence for men was prostate cancer, which caused 1.4 million new cases and 293,000 deaths. Lung cancer remained one of the leading causes of incident cancer cases among men between 1990 and 2013, but prostate cancer cases have increased more than threefold during this period due in part to population growth and aging.
For women, similar factors contributed to the global rise in breast cancer incidence. In 2013 there were 1.8 million new cases of breast cancer and 464,000 deaths. Breast cancer has remained the leading cause of incident cancer cases for women between 1990 and 2013, but the number of new cases more than doubled during this period.
Other leading causes of incident cases globally include cervical cancer, up 9% since 1990, lymphoma, up 105%, and colon and rectum cancer, which has increased 92%.
The death toll from cancer is also changing as new cases increase. In 2013 cancer was the second-leading cause of death globally after cardiovascular disease, and the proportion of deaths around the world due to cancer has increased from 12% in 1990 to 15% in 2013. Lung cancer, stomach cancer, and liver cancer have remained the three leading causes of cancer for both sexes combined during this time period. Lung cancer deaths have increased by 56%, stomach cancer deaths by 10%, and liver cancer deaths by 60%.
Cancer is often seen as a problem primarily in more affluent nations, but the disease is an issue in developing countries as well as developed countries. Even though breast cancer remains the leading cause of incident cancer cases for women globally, in developed countries incidence rates have been stable or declining since the early 2000s. The reverse is true in developing countries, where incidence rates are lower but rising faster than in developed countries.
The rankings for developed and developing countries are largely the same when it comes to number of cancer deaths for both sexes, though there are some notable differences. Cervical cancer ranks seventh in developing countries, compared to 17th in developed countries, and prostate cancer ranks 12th in developing countries but sixth in developed countries. Cervical cancer has a particularly significant impact in sub-Saharan Africa, where it’s the most commonly diagnosed cancer in almost two dozen countries in the region, including Ghana, Nigeria, and Zambia, and the most common cause of cancer death for women in 40 countries, such as Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania.
Although cancer is a global phenomenon, countries around the world show important variations. In China, stomach cancer, not breast cancer, is the second-most common cause of cancer death for women. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for men in United Arab Emirates and Qatar rather than prostate cancer. Mouth cancer, which is not prominent globally, is the second-most diagnosed cancer in India. Japan, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden are the only countries in the world where colon and rectum cancer was the most deadly form of cancer for women.
“The most effective strategies to address cancer will be tailored to local needs,” said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray. “Country-specific data can drive policies aimed to reduce the impact of cancer now and in the future.”
Leading causes of cancer deaths in Ethiopia for both sexes, with the number of deaths, 2013
Download the study at http://www.healthdata.org/research-article/global-burden-cancer-2013.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is an independent global health research organization at the University of Washington that provides rigorous and comparable measurement of the world’s most important health problems and evaluates the strategies used to address them. IHME makes this information widely available so that policymakers have the evidence they need to make informed decisions about how to allocate resources to best improve population health.
Maria Djordjevic, Meropa Communications, Johannesburg, South Africa