Global Cancer Battle: Balancing Treatments and Financial Challenges

18 Jan, 2024 | Statistics

Cancer claims millions of lives each year and is a serious global health concern. A startling 18.1 million people were diagnosed with cancer globally in 2020.


Globally, there were 8.8 million new cases of cancer in 2020 for women and 9.3 million new cases for men. Australia topped the list of nations with the highest cancer rates, with an age-standardized rate of 452.4 cases per 100,000 people. At 422.9 instances per 100,000 people, New Zealand had the second-highest rate, closely followed by Ireland in third place with an age-standardized rate of 372.8 cases per 100,000 people. Completing the top nine countries were the United States, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, and France.

The age distribution of cancer cases varied, with people over 45 making up over 90% of diagnoses and those under 20 making up over 5% of cases worldwide. In 2020, 12.5% of cases worldwide were diagnosed with breast cancer, the most common cancer. Lung cancer (11.4%), colorectal cancer (10.0%), and prostate cancer (7.3%) were the next most common cancers.

Treatments and government initiatives

Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, and immunotherapy are among the most widely used cancer treatment options. Success rates differ. For example, colorectal cancer has 5-year relative survival rates of 13% for remote stages and 90% for localized stages. Technological developments, particularly in the areas of machine learning and artificial intelligence, are transforming cancer research and care by enabling individualized treatment regimens and enhancing results.

It is estimated that the global oncology cancer drugs market will reach USD 288,636.6 million by 2030. There have been more oncology trials, and by 2027, global investment in cancer medications is anticipated to exceed $375 billion. Moreover, research and treatment for cancer are progressing, but financial difficulties still exist, particularly for marginalized communities. According to a survey, between 48% and 68% of cancer patients in the US had financial difficulties.

The economic impact is illustrated by differences in treatment costs between nations; for example, the median monthly cost of cancer therapy in the US is $11,755, while in Germany and Switzerland, it is $8,300 and $6,950, respectively. Interestingly, the US Congress set aside $1.5 billion in the FY 2023 budget to create the Association for Clinical Oncology in recognition of the vital need for ongoing financing for cancer research.

Additionally, $7.3 billion, including $216 million for the Cancer Moonshot, was allocated to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) under the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2023. The majority of funds provided by NCI, the largest cancer research funder in the world, go toward supporting research at NCI and programs at universities, hospitals, community clinics, and cancer centers around the country. The NCI saw significant funding growth in FY 2023, with an additional $22 million going toward the Cancer Moonshot on top of a $386 million budget increase.

The impact of cancer on the world is evident, as millions of people struggle with its diagnosis and treatment each year. Financial problems and inequality continue, despite the hope that comes from improvements in research, technology, and cures. Government support, international cooperation, and continuous research projects are essential elements of the group's effort to overcome the obstacles presented by cancer.

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