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Open Access Review

Managing the changing burden of cancer in Asia

Rengaswamy Sankaranarayanan1*, Kunnambath Ramadas2 and You-lin Qiao3

Author Affiliations

1 The International Agency for Research on Cancer, 150 Cours Albert Thomas, 69372, Lyon, Cedex 08, France

2 Regional Cancer Centre, PO Box 2417, Trivandrum 695011, Kerala State, India

3 Department of Cancer Epidemiology, Cancer Institute, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing 100021, China

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BMC Medicine 2014, 12:3  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-12-3

Published: 8 January 2014


Asia accounts for 60% of the world population and half the global burden of cancer. The incidence of cancer cases is estimated to increase from 6.1 million in 2008 to 10.6 million in 2030, due to ageing and growing populations, lifestyle and socioeconomic changes. Striking variations in ethnicity, sociocultural practices, human development index, habits and dietary patterns are reflected in the burden and pattern of cancer in different regions. The existing and emerging cancer patterns and burden in different regions of Asia call for political recognition of cancer as an important public health problem and for balanced investments in public and professional awareness. Prevention as well as early detection of cancers leads to both better health outcomes and considerable savings in treatment costs. Cancer health services are still evolving, and require substantial investment to ensure equitable access to cancer care for all sections of the population. In this review, we discuss the changing burden of cancer in Asia, along with appropriate management strategies. Strategies should promote healthy ageing via healthy lifestyles, tobacco and alcohol control measures, hepatitis B virus (HBV) and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, cancer screening services, and vertical investments in strengthening cancer healthcare infrastructure to improve equitable access to services.

Asia; Cancer burden; Prevention; Screening; Early detection; Diagnosis; Treatment; Clinical implication; Health services; Survival