Cancer is now the number one cause of mortality in the developed world, AuntMinnie says. Cancer, according to two reports from the Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiologic (PURE) study, has now surpassed even heart disease in high-income countries, the former claiming twice as many lives as the latter.
Data presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) in Paris suggests that heart disease is still the leading cause of death in “less prosperous countries.” Cardiovascular disease, however, is still responsible for the most deaths among middle-aged adults the world over, and is responsible for 40% of all deaths.
Lead author Gilles Dagenais, emeritus professor at Quebec’s Laval University, wrote with his colleagues: “The world is witnessing a new epidemiologic transition among the different categories of noncommunicable diseases.” They continued: “Our report found cancer to be the second most common cause of death globally in 2017, accounting for 26% of all deaths. But as cardiovascular disease rates continue to fall, cancer could likely become the leading cause of death worldwide within just a few decades.”
This highlights the importance of early detection: according to data from SEER, almost 50% of cancer cases in the US were detected late in 2018; only 2 out of 10 of those individuals are likely to make it longer than 5 years. Applied on a global scale, of the 18.1 million cancer cases diagnosed in 2018, early detection could have saved over 7 million lives.
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