Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases known to mankind. With the advancement in technology and availability of more imaging modalities, we are now able to detect more cancers most especially in their early stages. Despite advancements in cancer research and treatment, the fact remains that cancer comes with a substantial risk for mortality.

Global burden of cancer

One in eight deaths worldwide is caused by cancer. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, there were 14.1 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million deaths due to cancer in 2012. With the said data, it is predicted that by the year 2030, we would expect a rise in cancer cases to 21.7 million and deaths at 13 million respectively.

According to data gathered by the World Health Organisation, for both males and females, the top three causes of cancer mortalities are lung cancer, liver cancer and colorectal cancer.

The reason behind the increase in cases is said to be due to a growth in growing and aging individuals. Developing countries have a greater burden with cancer being caught in the late stages. This is attributed to the lack in public health awareness and lack of access to the necessary health facilities. With inadequate preventive strategies, untimely detection and lack of treatment, developing countries suffer relentlessly.

Women more prone to cancer than men

The number one cause of death for women worldwide is cardiovascular disease at 34%, with malignant neoplasms falling second at 14%. Figures have shown that the summation of causes of mortality cases for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria are far less than cancer deaths.

The leading cancer in terms of number of cases and deaths remains to be breast cancer. In second for these cases is colorectal cancer; while lung, bronchial and tracheal cancers take the poll ranking second for deaths.

UK cancer research has predicted that in the next 20 years there will be a significant rise of at least six times of rates of cancer in women compared to men.

Chief executive officer of Cancer research in the UK, Sir Harpal Kumar, stated that, "Research is at the heart of finding ways to reduce cancer’s burden and ensure more people survive, particularly for hard-to-treat cancers where the outlook for patients is still bleak. We need to keep working hard to reduce the devastating impact cancer can have on so many families."

A large case control study by Eyre et. al. stated that women have a relatively higher risk than men in developing cancer if they smoke. Alongside, historically, women tend to be more overweight than men which increase their cancer risk.

When it comes to lung cancer, studies have proven at cellular level the gender differences to higher aromatic hydrophic DNA adducts in women. Despite the mentioned risk factors, women remain to have an overall 1.5 higher risk in general than men in developing cancer.

Raising awareness

World Cancer Day is celebrated every February 4. The Cancer Research UK had created a giant colouring wall which persuaded people to colour on a section of the wall and to wear Unity bands to support cancer awareness. The funding was directed towards the said cause in moves to support prevention, detection and treatment of cancer.

Raising awareness is the key. Not only will it detect cancer in its early stages, but will also prevent those at risk from developing cancer. MIMS 

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