Rafael Lozano

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More women in poor countries dying from breast cancer | 

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African woman by Joaquin Jara

The number of young women with breast cancer has more than doubled worldwide since 1980, say researchers at Seattle’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Most of this, say the University of Washington global health number crunchers, is in the developing world where women lack access to screening, prevention and treatment programs that have reduced the overall risk of breast cancer for women in the rich world.

“Women in high-income countries like the United States and the United Kingdom are benefiting from early cancer screenings, drug therapies, and vaccines,” said Dr. Rafael Lozano, a UW professor of global Health at IHME and co-author of the paper published today in The Lancet.

The findings are almost certainly going to be fodder for those advocating giving cancer more attention on the global health agenda at next week’s UN High-Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases.

The study, which reviewed health data of 187 countries from 1980 to 2010, looked at both breast and cervical cancer death rates.

Over three decades, the researchers determined that breast cancer cases increased from 641,000 cases in 1980 to 1.6 million cases in 2010 (which far exceeds what would happen from population growth). Cervical cancer cases increased from 378,000 in 1980 to 425,000 in 2010, not as dramatically as breast cancer cases, and the cervical death rate (though 200,000) actually declined.

IHME UW

Breast cancer rates worldwide, 1980-2010

But it is the shift in the disease burden globally that is of perhaps more interest than the overall numbers. Continue reading