Breast cancer surpasses lung cancer and becomes the most common cancer in the world.
Lung cancer, compared to breast cancer, had previously been the most diagnosed in reports covering the last two decades,” said Hyuna Sung, lead scientist and cancer epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society, who authored the article.
But last year, lung cancer accounted for 11.4% of all diagnosed cases, according to the new report.
The fact that it is the cancer with the highest incidence is mainly due to “a combination of various factors.”
As Álvaro Rodríguez-Lescure, president of the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM), points out, among them are social factors such as population aging, delayed motherhood, less breastfeeding, not having offspring, taking the contraceptive pill, having the first menstruation at an early age, and a later menopause. Additionally, there is a greater diagnosis due to population screening techniques.
Obesity, sedentary lifestyle, alcohol consumption, and inadequate diets
are all significant risk factors for the development of breast cancer, as mentioned in the WHO report.
Most of these risk factors historically occur in developed countries, where the incidence is higher. However, the recent report indicates that the incidence is rapidly increasing in South America, Africa, and Asia, as well as in Japan and South Korea, regions where it has traditionally been low.
Social changes, such as women entering the workforce, which forces them to delay pregnancy, and lifestyle changes, such as a reduction in physical activity, are causing the women in these countries to have increasingly similar profiles to those of Western women. As a result, the morbidity rates for breast cancer are also tending to equalize.
Nevertheless, researchers from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta and the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France wrote in the report that lung cancer still ranks as the leading cause of cancer death, with an estimated 1.8 million deaths, representing 18% of all cancer deaths.
The five most frequently diagnosed types of cancer, according to the report, were:
- Female breast.
However, the statistics change when talking about mortality, as shown above.
Firstly, lung cancer is found, followed by colorectal cancer, liver cancer, stomach cancer, and in fifth place, female breast cancer.
The report reports data on the incidence and mortality from the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Basically, the data suggests that there were an estimated 19.3 million new cases and 10 million deaths from cancer worldwide in 2020.
The report is based on assessments from 2020, which do not reflect the potential impact that Covid-19 could have had on cancer diagnoses or deaths, as the estimates are based on extrapolations of cancer data from previous years.
Nobody knows yet the full extent of the impact of the pandemic on cancer statistics," Sung said. "But there are many studies proposing that we are already seeing delays in diagnosis and treatment.''
Breast cancer, one of the most common types of cancer worldwide, has been heavily affected by the pandemic. The fear of contracting COVID-19 has led many women to avoid going to hospitals or clinics for routine mammograms, resulting in delayed diagnosis and treatment.
Moreover, the pandemic has also affected breast cancer research, with many clinical trials being put on hold or canceled altogether. This has created a significant setback in the development of new and effective treatments for breast cancer patients.
The disruption in cancer treatment caused by the pandemic is a global issue. It has been particularly difficult for countries with limited resources and weak healthcare systems. In these countries, delays in diagnosis and treatment can be fatal, leading to increased mortality rates.
It is crucial to prioritize the continuity of cancer care, including breast cancer treatment, during the pandemic. Hospitals and clinics must implement measures to ensure the safety of patients and healthcare workers, such as telemedicine and home-based care.
Breast cancer patients and survivors must also prioritize their health during these difficult times by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, attending virtual support groups, and seeking professional help when needed.
In conclusion, breast cancer patients, and those at risk, must not let the fear of COVID-19 deter them from seeking medical attention. The pandemic has highlighted the need for improved healthcare systems and access to cancer care globally, and we must work together to ensure that breast cancer patients receive the timely and effective treatment they need.