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55% of cancer deaths occur in less developed regions

05 February, 2013

KARACHI: Lifestyle can have an important influence on cancer risk, said experts on Monday.

Talking to APP, they said a third of the most common cancers could be prevented by an appropriate diet, plus more physical exercise and careful attention to weight. It is estimated that the global number of cancer cases each year is around 12.7 million, but by 2030 this is expected to rise to 26 million, said Dr Nizam-ul-Hasan, running cancer treatment ward at the city's major children's hospital.

"It is therefore extremely important to invest in cancer prevention," he said mentioning that early detection is extremely cost-effective.

"In our particular context it is use of tobacco and tobacco-made products that has emerged to be the most severe threat for our population particularly youth," warned the senior doctor.

Referring to available statistics, he said investing in strategies that address common cancer risk factors, such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical activity would cost a mere US$ 2 billion per year.

Union for International Cancer Control in its latest report estimates that cancer would kill some eight million people during the current year, with the annual global death toll reaching 13.2 million by 2030.

It is estimated that by 2030 the worldwide cost of cancer will reach US$ 458 billion per year.

In view of the constant improvement in medical technology and treatment modalities cancer, presently, is not necessarily fatal, said Dr. Lubna Yameen, an oncologist associated with a private cancer hospital.

"Yet as a matter of fact while there have been significant and dramatic advances in the treatment of many forms of cancer, it remains a major worldwide heath issue," she elaborated.

The oncologist reiterated that it is also possible to stop many cancers before they have a chance to start. The experts said there was urgent need to dispel myths and misconceptions about cancer including a belief among many that it is a disease of the wealthy, elderly and developed countries.

"On the contrary approximately 47% of cancer cases and 55% of cancer deaths occur in the less developed regions of the world." said Dr Nizam-ul-Hasan.

In the developing world, lack of education and indifferent healthcare can increase the risk of cancer and an early death as a result, he added, mentioning that it is both a cause and effect of poverty.


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