Is Cancer Really the Disease for the Rich? Study Reveals That It May Not Be the Case

Dec 15, 2015 10:20 AM EST | By Denise Valerie Uychiat

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According to a recent study published in the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, different cancer rates around the world may be based on income.  Researchers found a clear pattern that cancer rates are declining in higher-income countries but is continuously growing in lower-income countries.

The researchers analyzed data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer which included data on cancer rates from 2007. They then turned to the World Health Organization's (WHO) Cancer Mortality database to gather death rates by country from 2012.

The researchers were able to accumulate enough information on eight major kinds of cancer from 50 countries. These are: breast, prostate, colorectal, lung, esophageal, stomach, liver, and cervical cancer. The kind of cancers that can usually be detected if patients are screened earlier.

It was revealed that there are15 million new cancer cases all over the world, and 8.2 million cancer-related deaths. "This gives us important clues about the epidemiology of cancer and gives us some ideas about what we could further investigate to improve global public health," the study authors said.

The information gathered gave experts ideas how cancer rates develop in different countries. Researchers hope that now the curtain has been pulled back on the health inequality in different countries based on income levels, availability of cancer screenings, and intervention methods. But the study had its limitations. Some of the countries included in the study didn't require all their citizens to register deaths, so the overall mortality rate result is partially altered.

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute stated that the Unites States had the sixth highest number of new cancer diagnoses in 2012, the reason why cancer is often considered a disease of the wealthy, but that's really not the case, when each countries' diagnostic and death rates are compared to each other. Global cancer incidence rates show that about 70 percent of cancer-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

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