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Female cancers blight millions

Thursday September 15th, 2011

Two major cancers affect about two million women worldwide annually, according to an analysis published last night.

In developing countries there has been a sharp rise in the number of women of reproductive age dying from cancer, researchers warned.

The study of breast and cervical cancer, reported in The Lancet, is said to provide the most accurate estimates ever.

The researchers say cervical cancer rates are falling - but it still killed some 200,000 women last year.

But rates of breast cancer have increased annually for 30 years - at a rate of about three per cent a year.

Deaths from the disease increased from quarter of a million in 1980 to 425,000 in 2010.

Researcher Professor Rafael Lozano, of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA, said: "Women in high-income countries like the United States and the United Kingdom are benefiting from early cancer screenings, drug therapies, and vaccines.

"We are seeing the burden of breast and cervical cancer shifting to low-income countries in Africa and Asia. This is one of the early signs of the emerging threat of non-communicable diseases in these countries.

"Everyone has been talking about that threat. Now the trend is clear."

Writing in the journal, Dr Jan Coebergh, from Erasmus University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, says: "Improved cancer surveillance systems would also allow a detailed view of the quality of evolving clinical care, not only in different health settings and countries but in respect of the various emerging and declining epidemics of individual cancers."

The Lancet September 15 2011

Tags: Cancer | Europe | North America | Women’s Health & Gynaecology | World Health

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