Cancer number one killer in Australia

Cancer number one killer in Australia

Cancer has surpassed heart disease as the biggest killer in Australia, according to a new report from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The WHO's World Cancer Report found 8.2 million people died from cancer globally in 2012, including 40,000 Australians.

The report was last released six years ago and this is the first major international update on the disease since then.

It found that cancer surpassed heart disease as the world's biggest killer in 2011, with 7.87 million cancer deaths compared to 7.02 million from heart disease. Stroke was considered separately.

Global killer
  • 8.2 million deaths from cancer in 2012.
  • Lung, liver, stomach, colorectal and breast cancers cause most deaths.
  • 1.59 million lung cancer deaths in 2012.
  • 745,000 liver cancer deaths in 2012.
  • Tobacco use is biggest risk factor, accounting for 70 per cent of lung cancer deaths.
  • Africa, Asia, Central and South America account for 70 per cent of world's cancer deaths.

In Australia and other Western countries, the rise in cancer cases has been attributed to ageing populations and increased screening.

Lifestyle has also been highlighted as a major factor, with cancer particularly prevalent in countries where people have a poor diet and inactive lifestyles, and countries with high smoking rates.

Doctors predict global cancer rates will increase by three-quarters over the next two decades and they expect 20 million new cases by 2025.

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