Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Global and regional estimates of cancer mortality and incidence by site: II. results for the global burden of disease 2000

Kenji Shibuya1*, Colin D Mathers1, Cynthia Boschi-Pinto2, Alan D Lopez1 and Christopher JL Murray3

Author Affiliations

1 Global Program on Evidence for Health Policy, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

2 Family and Community Health/Child and Adolescent Health and Development, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

3 Executive Director, Evidence and Information for Policy, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

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BMC Cancer 2002, 2:37  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-2-37

Published: 26 December 2002



Mortality estimates alone are not sufficient to understand the true magnitude of cancer burden. We present the detailed estimates of mortality and incidence by site as the basis for the future estimation of cancer burden for the Global Burden of Disease 2000 study.


Age- and sex- specific mortality envelope for all malignancies by region was derived from the analysis of country life-tables and cause of death. We estimated the site-specific cancer mortality distributions from vital records and cancer survival model. The regional cancer mortality by site is estimated by disaggregating the regional cancer mortality envelope based on the mortality distribution. Estimated incidence-to-mortality rate ratios were used to back calculate the final cancer incidence estimates by site.


In 2000, cancer accounted for over 7 million deaths (13% of total mortality) and there were more than 10 million new cancer cases world wide in 2000. More than 60% of cancer deaths and approximately half of new cases occurred in developing regions. Lung cancer was the most common cancers in the world, followed by cancers of stomach, liver, colon and rectum, and breast. There was a significant variations in the distribution of site-specific cancer mortality and incidence by region.


Despite a regional variation, the most common cancers are potentially preventable. Cancer burden estimation by taking into account both mortality and morbidity is an essential step to set research priorities and policy formulation. Also it can used for setting priorities when combined with data on costs of interventions against cancers.