Breast cancer ‘most common cancer in the world’

Ella Pickover, PA Health Correspondent

Breast cancer has become the most commonly diagnosed cancer type in the world, scientists have said.

Lung cancer was previously the most prevalent cancer.

But new research from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) suggests that breast cancer in women is now more common, with 2.3 million cases diagnosed in 2020.

Breast cancer now accounts for 11.7% of all new cancer cases, the IARC said.

Lung cancer accounted for 11.4% of new cancers in 2020.

Bowel cancer was responsible for one in 10 new cancer cases around the world last year, while prostate cancer accounted for 7.3% and stomach cancer accounted for 5.6% of new cases.

The highest incidence rates of breast cancer are in high income countries, the IARC added.

Figures released by the body show that there were 19.3 million new cases of all cancers and 10 million deaths in 2020.

Around the world, one in five people develop cancer during their lifetime, and one in eight men and one in 11 women die from the disease.

It comes as people are being urged to seek help for potential symptoms of cancer after it emerged that fewer are coming forward during the pandemic.

The Health Secretary and NHS clinical director for cancer have called on the public to speak to their GP if they are worried about symptoms.

They stressed that cancer diagnosed at an earlier stage is more likely to be successfully treated.

Commenting on the figures, released to mark World Cancer Day, Dr Simon Vincent, director of research, support and influencing at the charity Breast Cancer Now, said: “Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women in the UK, with around 11,500 women dying from the disease every year.

“This new international data is a timely reminder that breast cancer has not been paused by Covid-19, and continues to have a devastating impact on people’s lives in the UK, and around the world.

“In the UK, breast cancer was dealt a huge blow with the first wave of the pandemic having major impacts across treatment and care and now, the already strained NHS is facing immense pressures due to a significant rise in Covid-19 cases and hospital admissions.

“It’s now vital that the Government provides significant long-term investment in the breast cancer workforce – in particular in imaging and diagnostics – to give all women the best chance of survival.

“Despite the pandemic, we must continue to look to the future and invest in research so that we can discover new ways to prevent breast cancer, save lives and help people live well with this devastating disease.”

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