17 October 2012

Cancer takes away from humanity 170 million years of healthy life a year

To assess the contribution of not only fatal cancer cases, but also non-fatal cases leading to disability or a significant deterioration in the quality of life (for example, mastectomy for breast cancer and infertility for cervical cancer), scientists from the International Agency for Cancer Research in Lyon (France) used an indicator known as "years of life with loss of health" (disability-adjusted life-years, DALYs). As part of the study, they analyzed the data contained in the registers of malignant diseases in 184 countries in 12 regions of the world. The results of the analysis showed that on a global scale in 2008, cancer deprived humanity of 169.3 million years of healthy life.

According to the head of the study, Dr. Isabelle Soerjomataram, while in general the DALY indicators are almost the same for all levels of society (countries were divided into 4 categories depending on the human development index, which is an indicator of average life expectancy, level of education and income), they reflect a higher incidence of premature mortality in lower-income countries, as well as higher average levels of disability and health deterioration in higher-income countries.

The main contribution to the global burden of reducing the number of years of healthy life due to malignant diseases falls on Europe and Asia. At the same time, the male population of Eastern Europe has the worst (3146 DALYs lost per 100,000 men adjusted for age). For women, the most unfavorable indicator was obtained for sub-Saharan Africa (2,749 DALYs lost per 100,000 women adjusted for age).

The greatest contribution to the DALY indicators for most regions was made by cancer of the rectum, lung, breast and prostate, which ranged from 18% to 50% of the total burden caused by malignant diseases. The contribution of neoplasms, the development of which is induced by infectious diseases (liver, stomach and cervical cancer), was especially high in the sub-Saharan regions (25% of all cancer cases) and East Asia (27% of all cancer cases).

The results of the study also demonstrated that for a number of common types of cancer characterized by poor prognoses for patients (especially lung, stomach, liver and pancreatic cancers), good access to high-quality therapeutic approaches does not significantly increase survival. This indicates the exceptional importance of preventive measures.

Unlike traditional indicators such as mortality and morbidity, which mainly demonstrate the number of cancer cases and deaths in old age, DALY gives more weight to the mortality of young people who could work, raise children and support their family members.

Solving the problems raised by the results of the study requires great efforts, including the use of multilateral interventions aimed at reducing the growing burden caused by malignant diseases in low- and middle-income countries. This should involve a variety of stakeholders from both the public and private sectors, including national and international health organizations, relevant industries, charitable and government funding organizations, as well as local and regional officials.

Article by Isabelle Soerjomataram et al. Global burden of cancer in 2008: a systematic analysis of disability-adjusted life-years in 12 world regions published in The Lancet.

Evgeniya Ryabtseva
Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru based on the materials of Medicalexpress:
Nearly 170 million years of healthy life lost due to cancer in 2008.


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