Global Cancer Facts & Figures 4th Edition


The fourth edition of the Global Cancer Facts & Figures was published by the American Cancer Society, Georgia, USA, in the year 2018. The previous edition was published in the year 2015. This 76-page document provides updated data on cancer, including region-specific numbers of cancer cases and deaths caused by cancer.

In 2018, about 9.5 million deaths were recorded due to cancer (as high as 26,000 deaths per day). This report examines the global trends in cancer – the risk of developing cancer, survival rates, prevention and control. It also analyses eleven types of cancer with focus on prevalence, deaths, signs and symptoms, early detection methods and survival rates.

The report uses GLOBOCAN 2018 – data on cancer collated by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer – as one of the major sources of information.

This document consists of seven sections: Basic Cancer Facts (Section 1); Selected Cancers (Section 2); World Reference Map (Section 3); References (Section 4); Special Section: The Obesity Epidemic (Section 5); The Global Fight Against Cancer (Section 6); and Sources of Statistics (Section 7).


  1. Data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, WHO, stated that 17 million new cases of cancer were recorded globally in the year 2018.

  2. By the year 2040, cancer cases are projected to rise to 27.5 million worldwide while cancer-related deaths are expected to reach 16.3 million.

  3. Citing data from GLOBOCAN 2018, the report states that cancer of the lung, bronchus and trachea is most common among males – with an estimated 1,368,500 new cases and 1,184,900 deaths in 2018. Among women, breast cancer is the most common kind of cancer with 2,088,800 cases and 626,700 deaths in 2018.

  4. Among males living in countries with a medium human development index (HDI) score (including India), the most common kinds of cancer were lung, bronchus and trachea cancer (154,500 cases), cancer of the lip and oral cavity (125,900 cases) and cancer of the colon, rectum and anus (101,600 cases).

  5. Incidences of breast cancer (402,800 cases), uterine cervical cancer (206,100 cases) and ovarian cancer (77,600 cases) were highest among different kinds of cancer suffered by women in countries with a medium HDI score.

  6. Global patterns in the occurrence and mortality rates of cancer vary based on the age distribution in the population, presence of risk factors, access to preventive methods, early detection and quality treatment. This is illustrated by how cancers associated with infection are observed more in countries scoring low or medium on the HDI than the countries scoring very high – 25 to 23 per cent compared to eight per cent.

  7. In terms of geographical area, the region of Eastern Asia was projected to have the highest number of new cancer cases in 2018 (5.6 million) followed by Northern America (1.9 million) and South-Central Asia (1.7 million).

  8. In 2018, the kind of cancer estimated to be the most commonly diagnosed in India among males was of the lip or oral cavity. Breast cancer was estimated to be the most common type of cancer among females in India.

  9. Globally, around 21 men per hundred men and 18 women per hundred women are expected to develop cancer by the age of 75 years. Roughly 80 per cent of all cancer cases diagnosed are among people aged 50 years or above, the report states.

  10. Around 20 per cent of cancer deaths in 2015 were found to be due to use of tobacco. According to the World Cancer Research Fund International, 15-20 per cent of cancers are connected to conditions such as excess body weight, physical inactivity and poor nutrition. Infectious agents like the human papillomavirus and hepatitis B and C virus also contribute to 15 per cent of all global cancers, the document adds.

  11. About 40 per cent of adults and 18 per cent of children (aged 5-19 years) across the globe were overweight or obese in 2016, the report states. In 2012, the overall number of cancer cases related to obesity were estimated to be around 544,300 cases. This number is expected to rise in the recent future, the report states.

    Focus and Factoids by Jerry Jose.

    PARI Library's health archive project is part of an initiative supported by the Azim Premji University to develop a free-access repository of health-related reports relevant to rural India.


American Cancer Society, Georgia, USA


American Cancer Society, Georgia, USA