Cancer rates increased sharply in 2012, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has predicted "a substantive increase" in the disease, with new cases predicted to rise to 19.3 million by 2025 as the world's population both grows and ages.

An estimated 14.1 million people developed cancer last year compared to 12.7 million in 2008, and 1.7 million women were newly diagnosed with breast cancer, up by 20 percent from 2008, according to a new report released on Thursday by the World Health Organisation's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

The global death toll from cancer rose to 8.2 million, and breast cancer killed 522,000 women, in 2012.

"Breast cancer is also a leading cause of cancer death in the less developed countries of the world," said David Forman, head of IARC's Section of Cancer Information, the group that compiled the global cancer data.

Forman said this was "partly because a shift in lifestyles is causing an increase in incidence, and partly because clinical advances to combat the disease are not reaching women living in these regions."

IARC's report, called GLOBOCAN 2012, gives the most up-to-date estimates for 28 different types of cancer in 184 countries.

It found that the most commonly diagnosed cancers worldwide in both men and women were lung, breast and colorectal cancers. The most common causes of cancer death were lung, liver and stomach cancers.

Early detection

The IARC report said the number of new cancer cases each year has been increasing in most regions of the world, but noted "huge inequalities" between rich and poor countries.

While rates of new cancer cases are still highest in more developed regions, death rates are relatively much higher in less developed countries. This is because the disease is often not detected and diagnosed early enough due to a lack of screening and access to treatment.

Cervical cancer, for example, kills hundreds of thousands of women in Africa each year but can be largely avoided with a vaccine or successfully treated if it is detected early enough.

In sub-Saharan Africa, 34.8 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed per 100,000 women annually, and 22.5 women per 100,000 die from the disease. That compares with 6.6 and 2.5 per 100,000 women respectively in North America.

"These findings bring into sharp focus the need to implement the tools already available for cervical cancer, notably HPV vaccination combined with well organised national programmes for screening and treatment," said Christopher Wild, IARC's director.

Source: Reuters