According to a report in the Lancet two million women were diagnosed with breast or cervicalRelating either to the cervix (the neck of the womb) or to the cervical vertebrae in the neck (cervical spine).cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. globally last year. The research sadly points to the need to make cancer prevention a priority – especially in the developing world.
Of the 2 million new cases of breast and cervical cancer in 2010, there were 625,000 deaths. There was a sharp rise in breast and cervical cancer among younger women. The figures on breast cancer show an increase in cases at a rate of about 3%, while death rates are also rising at about 2% a year. This is partly due to an ageing population and other factors, including diet, obesityExcess accumulation of fat in the body., genetics, economics and the availability of screeningA way to identify people who may have a certain condition, among a group of people who may or may not seem to.
In the past, the leading causes of death in women of reproductive age included complications during childbirth and pregnancythe period from conception to birth. The latest research suggests that breast and cervical cancer deaths are starting to overtake, in poorer countries.
The study covered the period1980-2010 and showed major differences in a woman's chances of developing, and surviving, cancer. For example, in the UK, a woman's risk of dying from breast cancer has fallen from 1 in 32 in 1980, to 1 in 47 by 2010. In countries such as Rwanda, however, the trend has reversed, with 1 in 60 women now at risk, compared with 1 in 97 in 1980.
The authors of the report say that the main known risk factors for breast cancer are poor diet and obesity and these are now becoming more commonplace in poor countries. "We have found that while countries such as the United States and United Kingdom have been able to lower the risks of women dying from breast cancer, through better screening and treatment, countries with fewer resources are seeing the risks go up."
With cervical cancer, the number of cases and deaths are rising more slowly than breast cancer, they say, with the number of deaths from cervical cancer going down in high-income countries.
"Our concern is that this is a disease that is almost entirely preventable through safe sex practices and early detection, yet it continues to kill nearly a half a million women every year.
"With the right investments and targeted policies, like the ones we have seen in places such as the UK, we can reverse this trend."