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Cancer Takes Growing Toll In Developing World

Cancer is becoming a bigger problem in the developing world by the day, as the populations there grow — and grow older.

Data just out from the World Health Organization show the majority of cancers — 56 percent of 12.7 million new cases worldwide — occurred in developing countries in 2008. Deaths from cancer were higher there, too, accounting for 63 percent of the 7.6 million cancer-related deaths that year.

Peer into the future, as the WHO researchers did using public data, and cancer cases will rise worldwide to an estimated 21.4 million in 2030, a 69 percent increase over 2008. Deaths from cancer will climb to 13.2 million — up from 7.6 million.

The increase in cancer deaths in the developing world will outpace those in the developing world, too.

A big factor in the cancer increase is the rapid growth in the number of older people, more at risk for cancer, in poorer countries. By 2050, about 1.6 billion people in the developing world will be age 60 or over — more than triple the number in 2009, United Nations demographers estimates.

The number of older folks living in richer countries will rise, too, but only to about 416 million people from about 264 million last year.

The types of cancers vary some by part of the world, too. Liver cancer is among the top 5 in less developed countries but not the richer ones. The reverse is true for prostate cancer. Lung, breast, stomach and colorectal cancers are the other four big cancers for both wealthy and poorer regions.

If you're interested in how cancer is affecting people around the globe, the World Health Organization has online tools you can tap here.