Breast Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

World Health Organization Reports Breast Cancer Now the Most Common Type of Cancer Worldwide

By: JNCCN 360 Staff
Posted: Friday, February 5, 2021

Although lung cancer has been the most common cancer for the past 20 years, “for the first time, breast cancer now constitutes the most commonly occurring cancer globally,” according to Andre Ilbawi, MD, a cancer specialist at the World Health Organization (WHO). This statement was made at a United Nations briefing ahead of World Cancer Day on February 4. Breast cancer now accounts for nearly 12% of new cases each year worldwide, according to WHO. The second and third most common cancers are now lung and colorectal, respectively.

An estimated 2.3 million new breast cancer cases were diagnosed in 2020, representing 11.7% of all cancer cases, the WHO said in a statement. “Among women, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of cancer death worldwide,” it said. Dr. Ilbawi noted that obesity in women was a common risk factor in breast cancer and is also driving overall cancer numbers.

As the global population grows and life expectancy increases, cancer is expected to become more common, rising to about 30 million new cases per year in 2040 from 19.3 million in 2020, Dr. Ilbawi said.

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