Breast cancer deaths might double by 2030, reports say

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A woman undergoes a free mammogram inside Peru's first mobile unit for breast cancer detection, in Lima March 8, 2012. Photo by Enrique Castro/REUTERS

A woman undergoes a free mammogram inside Peru’s first mobile unit for breast cancer detection, in Lima March 8, 2012. Photo by Enrique Castro/REUTERS

Cancer deaths among women are expected to climb 60 percent by 2030, due to an uptick in breast and cervical cancer cases, according to a series of reports published Tuesday.

The number of women killed by breast cancer could nearly double to 3.2 million by 2030, said one of three reports published in the Lancet medical journal. Cervical cancer diagnoses are expected to increase 25 percent in the same time frame.

“We have not been paying attention to the burden of cancer in terms of women’s health. It’s really much higher than we had thought it was,” Sally Cowal, senior VP of global health at ACS, told PBS NewsHour.

Cancer would become the second leading cause of mortality in women, if these predictions come to pass, according to a separate American Cancer Society report published Tuesday. The ACS estimates cancer may be responsible for one in seven deaths among women by 2030.

Where and how a woman lives also has a large effect on developing cancer, early prognosis and access to treatment. The Lancet series spotlights how low-income nations might shoulder much of the rising disease burden, citing 2012 sources that show 14.1 million new cases worldwide with 8.2 million deaths, 65 percent of those deaths were from “less developed regions.”

Researchers point to poor diets, being overweight and limited access to cancer prevention as key factors that contribute to high cancer risk for women in low- and middle-class households. Cervical cancer, for example, can largely be prevented with low-cost HPV vaccines. One of the Lancet studies stated 85 percent of women diagnosed with cervical cancer and 87 percent killed by the disease live in low- and middle-income countries.

“Cancer has not been thought to be a problem really in the developing world,” Cowal said. Now, she said, that is exactly where researchers are seeing cancer diagnoses rise the fastest.

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