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World Health OrganizationUP TO 40% of all cancers could be prevented through changes in lifestyle and improved prevention and screening policies, say the World Health Organisation on today, World Cancer Day.

People can significantly reduce their cancer risk related to tobacco use, heavy alcohol consumption, excessive sun exposure and obesity by avoiding these risk factors and adopting healthier lifestyles.

As cancer incidence rates continue to rise, the role of governments is crucial in raising awareness and putting in place comprehensive early detection measures.

Zsuzsanna Jakab, new Regional Director at the WHO Regional Office for Europe, said: “Well-conceived, effective national cancer control programmes are essential to fight cancer and to improve the lives of cancer patients.

“We urge governments to rigorously implement the four basic components of cancer control – prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, and palliative care.”

Low-income and disadvantaged groups are particularly exposed to avoidable cancer risk factors and infectious agents.

Latest statistics:

Cancer causes around 7.6 million deaths worldwide each year.

Of these, more than 72% occur in low and middle-income countries.

Deaths from cancer worldwide are projected to continue rising, with an estimated 17 millions deaths in 2030.

Lung cancer kills more people than any other cancer – a trend that is expected to continue until 2030, unless efforts for global tobacco control are greatly intensified.

Some cancers are more common in developed countries: prostate, breast and colon.

Liver, stomach and cervical cancer are more common in developing countries.

In the 53 countries covered by the WHO Regional Office for Europe, Hungary has the highest cancer mortality rate (458 per 100,000 population), followed by the Russian Federation and Ukraine (347 per 100,000 population). This has been suggested to be the result of high smoking rates.

Breast cancer is responsible for most cancer-related deaths in women (17.2% of all female cancer deaths), while lung cancer is a leading killer amongst men (26.9% of all male cancer deaths) in the European region.

Lung cancer mortality rates are highest in Hungary (135 per 100,000 population), followed by Poland (93 per 100,000 population) and Croatia (86 per 100,000 population).

Romania leads the statistics in cervical cancer deaths (21 per 100,000 population) while breast cancer deaths are highest in Belgium and Armenia (37 per 100,000 population).