WHO fact sheet on Cancer (updated on 25th February 2015)

Key facts:

  • Cancers figure among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, with approximately 14 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer related deaths in 2012.
  • The number of new cases is expected to rise by about 70% over the next 2 decades.
  • Among men, the 5 most common sites of cancer diagnosed in 2012 were
  1. lung, 
  2. prostate, 
  3. colorectum, 
  4. stomach, and 
  5. liver cancer.
  • Among women the 5 most common sites diagnosed were
  1. breast,
  2. colorectum,
  3. lung,
  4. cervix, and
  5. stomach cancer.
  • Around one third of cancer deaths are due to the 5 leading behavioural and dietary risks:
  1. high body mass index,
  2. low fruit and vegetable intake,
  3. lack of physical activity,
  4. tobacco use,
  5. alcohol use.
  • Tobacco use is the most important risk factor for cancer causing around 20% of global cancer deaths and around 70% of global lung cancer deaths.
  • Cancer causing viral infections such as HBV/HCV and HPV are responsible for up to 20% of cancer deaths in low- and middle-income countries.
  • More than 60% of world’s total new annual cases occur in Africa, Asia and Central and South America. These regions account for 70% of the world’s cancer deaths.

More than 30% of cancer deaths could be prevented by modifying or avoiding key risk factors, including:

  • tobacco use
  • being overweight or obese
  • unhealthy diet with low fruit and vegetable intake
  • lack of physical activity
  • alcohol use
  • sexually transmitted HPV-infection
  • infection by HBV
  • ionizing and non-ionizing radiation
  • urban air pollution
  • indoor smoke from household use of solid fuels.

Useful Link:

Link to factsheet on Cancer:


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