New reports have revealed that lung cancer has become the biggest reason for women’s death due to cancer in developed countries. A new analysis led by researchers at the American Cancer Society in collaboration with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reports that the change reflects the tobacco epidemic in women, which occurred later than in men.

 Lung cancer has been the leading cause of cancer death in males in developed countries for several decades. It is also the leading cause of cancer death for males in developing countries, where breast cancer remains the top cause of cancer death in females.

Cancer now constitutes an enormous burden on society in more and less developed countries alike, and its occurrence is increasing because of the growth and aging of the population, as well as an increasing prevalence of risk factors associated with economic growth and urbanization, such as smoking, being overweight, physical inactivity, and changing reproductive patterns.

An estimated 14.1 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million cancer deaths occurred in 2012 worldwide. In less developed countries, lung and breast cancer are the most frequently diagnosed cancers and the leading causes of cancer death in men and women, respectively. In more developed countries, prostate and breast cancer are the most frequently diagnosed cancers among men and women, respectively, and lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women. Colorectal cancer has become a frequent cause of cancer death not only indeveloped countries, but also in developing countries.

The researchers point out that breast, lung, and colorectal cancers are increasing in many countries in economic transition with an already disproportionately high burden of cancers related to infection, including cancers of the liver, stomach, and cervix.

“A substantial proportion of the worldwide burden of cancer can be prevented through the application of existing cancer control knowledge, including tobacco control, vaccination (for liver and cervical cancers), early detection, and the promotion of physical activity and healthy dietary patterns,” the researchers write. The authors report that a number of cancer s that were once rare in developing countries are becoming increasingly common as those countries adopt a more Western lifestyle.

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