One in six cancers the result of infection, study suggests
More efforts are needed to recognize cancer as a communicable disease
One in six cancers, or two million cases a year globally are caused by largely treatable or preventable infections, a new study suggests. According to the Lancet Oncology review, which examined incidence rates for 27 cancers in 184 countries, four main infections are responsible.
Jessica Harris of Cancer Research U.K. said: "It's important that authorities worldwide make every effort to reduce the number of infection-related cancers, especially when many of these infections can be prevented. In the U.K., infections are thought to be responsible for 3 percent of cancers, or around 9,700 cases each year."
The team from the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France says more efforts are needed to tackle these preventable cases and more importantly -- recognize cancer as a communicable disease.
The proportion of cancers related to infection is about three times higher in parts of the developing world, such as east Asia, than in developed countries like the U.K. - 22.9 percent versus 7.4 percent, respectively. Alarmingly, nearly a third of these cancer cases occur in people younger than 50 years.
Cancer of the cervix accounted for about half of the infection-related cancers among women. In men, more than 80 percent were liver and gastric cancers.
Doctors Catherine de Martel and Martyn Plummer, who led the research, says that "infections with certain viruses, bacteria, and parasites are some of the biggest and preventable causes of cancer worldwide.
"Application of existing public-health methods for infection prevention, such as vaccination, safer injection practice, or antimicrobial treatments, could have a substantial effect on the future burden of cancer worldwide."
There are currently vaccines that are available to protect against human papillomavirus (HPV), which is linked to cancer of the cervix and hepatitis B virus, which is an established cause of liver cancer.
And experts know that stomach cancer can be avoided by clearing the bacterial infection H. pylori from the gut using a course of antibiotics.
Dr. Goodarz Danaei from Harvard School of Public Medicine in Boston, the U.S., said: "Since effective and relatively low-cost vaccines for HPV and HBV are available, increasing coverage should be a priority for health systems in high-burden countries."
Jessica Harris of Cancer Research U.K. said: "It's important that authorities worldwide make every effort to reduce the number of infection-related cancers, especially when many of these infections can be prevented. In the U.K., infections are thought to be responsible for 3 percent of cancers, or around 9,700 cases each year.
"Vaccination against HPV, which causes cervical cancer, should go a long way towards reducing rates of this disease in the U.K.. But it's important that uptake of the vaccination remains high. At a global level, if the vaccine were available in more countries, many thousands more cases could be prevented."
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
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Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
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