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Cancer is the second leading cause of death behind heart disease. In 2007, 1.445 million new cases of invasive cancers had been registered, out of which 559,650 people died from the disease. Fortunately, the incidence of cancer has been declining since the year 1992 by 2% with each passing year.


One of the most important factors associated with the incidence of cancer is age. Of all the cases reported, two-thirds of the cases were over the age of sixty five. The incidence of cancer increases with age after the third, fourth and the fifth decade of life.

From the birth to the age of 39, 1 in 72 men and 1 in 51 women will develop cancer; for the age group between 40 and 59, the occurrence of cancer is 1 in 12 men and 1 in 11 women. All in all, the risk of developing cancer for a man is 45% during his lifetime and that for a woman is about 37%.

Lung Cancer is the most common cancer and the most frequent cause of death associated with cancer in the world. The second most common is breast cancer, although the deaths caused by breast cancer are lesser in number than the deaths caused by other cancers like stomach cancer, liver and colon.

Some types of cancers are most frequent in developed countries whereas the developing and the under developed nations show more common cases of cancers like liver, cervix and the esophagus.

African countries experience a larger number of cases of cervical and breast cancers.

The most common modifiable causes of about one-third cancers around the world are as follows:

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Obesity
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Low fruit and vegetable consumption
  • Air Pollution
  • Unprotected sex
  • Indoor smoke from household fuels
  • Contaminated Injections

The Incidence and Enormity of the problem

A well defined data of patients hit by cancer does not exist; however, the incidence of cancer is estimated on the basis of the records of the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) as reported in the year 2007.

Cancer Percentage of Incidence Incidence Fatality Percentage
Prostate 29 218890 9
Lung 15 114760 31
Colorectal 10 79130 9
Bladder 7 50040 3
Lymphoma 4 34200 3
Melanoma 4 33910 3
Breast 36 178480 15
Ovary 3 22430 6
Endometrial 6 39080 3

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