Cancer
EduSmart Life & Culture

Cancer will kill 9.6 mn people in 2018

9.6 million people worldwide are estimated to die from cancer in 2018. But do you know that 30-50% of cancers can be prevented?

Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally and is estimated to account for 9.6 million death in 2018, says the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach and liver cancer are the most common types of cancer in men, while breast, colorectal, lung, cervix and thyroid cancer are the most common among women.

What is Cancer

Cancer is a generic term for a large group of diseases characterised by the growth of abnormal cells beyond their usual boundaries that can then invade adjoining parts of the body and/or spread to other organs.

Other common terms used are malignant tumours and neoplasms. Cancer can affect almost any part of the body and has many anatomic and molecular subtypes that each require specific management strategies.

Cancer Prevention

According to current evidence, between 30% and 50% of cancer deaths could be prevented by modifying or avoiding key risk factors, including avoiding tobacco products, reducing alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising regularly and addressing infection-related risk factors.


  • Worldwide, tobacco use is the single greatest avoidable risk factor for cancer mortality and kills approximately 6 million people each year, from cancer and other diseases. Tobacco smoke has more than 7000 chemicals, at least 250 are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer.
  • Risk of cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. For several types of cancer, heavy drinking of alcohol combined with tobacco use substantially increases the risks of cancer.
  • Pollution of air, water and soil with carcinogenic chemicals contributes to the cancer burden to differing degrees depending on the geographical settings. Outdoor air pollution is classified as carcinogenic, or cancer-causing, for humans.
  • Dietary modification is another important approach to cancer control. There is a link between overweight and obesity to many types of cancer such as oesophagus, colorectum, breast, endometrium and kidney.
  • Diets high in fruits and vegetables may have an independent protective effect against many cancers. Regular physical activity and the maintenance of a healthy body weight, along with a healthy diet, considerably reduce cancer risk.
  • In addition, healthy eating habits that prevent the development of diet-associated cancers will also lower the risk of other noncommunicable diseases.

Prevention offers the most cost-effective long-term strategy for the control of cancer. Policies and programmes should be implemented to raise awareness, to reduce exposure to cancer risk factors and to ensure that people are provided with the information and support they need to adopt healthy lifestyles.


Suggested Readings:

How to defeat lung cancer [Excerpts: Different people have different symptoms for lung cancer. Some people don’t have any symptoms at all when first diagnosed with lung cancer.] Click here to read more.

Global initiative kicked off to treat children with cancer [Excerpts: The renewed efforts aim at reaching at least a 60% survival rate for children with cancer by 2030.] Click here to read more.


Cancer Management

To reduce the significant disability, suffering and deaths caused by cancer worldwide, effective and affordable programmes in early diagnosis, screening, treatment, and palliative care are needed.

Treatment options may include surgery, medicines and/or radiotherapy; treatment planning should be guided by tumour type, stage and available resources and informed by the preference of the patient.

Palliative care, which focuses on improving the quality of life of patients and their families, is an essential components of cancer care.

WHO says accelerated action is needed to improve cancer care, achieve global targets to reduce deaths from cancer and provide health care for all consistent with universal health coverage.

Cancer Control Programme

The key mission of any government or agency engaged in cancer control should be to promote cancer control policies, plans and programmes that are harmonised with strategies for noncommunicable diseases and other related health concerns.

Core functions should include setting norms and standards for cancer control including the development of evidence-based prevention, early diagnosis, screening, treatment and palliative care programmes as well as to promote monitoring and evaluation through registries and research that are tailored to the local disease burden and available resources.


Do you know: Nearly 80% of the 1 billion smokers in the world live in low- and middle-income countries.

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