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Over 19 mln people diagnosed with cancer in 2020, poor countries hard-hit: WHO
update:February 04,2021
GENEVA, Feb.4,2021 -- The World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday that 19.3 million people were diagnosed with cancer in 2020, and that number is expected to "grow significantly in the coming decades" and will concern mostly low- and middle-income countries.
Speaking ahead of the Feb. 4 World Cancer Day, Andre Ilbawi, Technical Officer of the WHO, said at a press conference here that the number of people with cancer is expected to rise by 47 percent worldwide by 2040.
Ilbawi told reporters that "cancer is the second leading cause of death globally." While more and more people will be plagued by cancer, low- and middle-income countries will bear that burden more heavily.
He explained that already 70 percent of people dying from cancer live in such countries and treatment services were available only "to less than 30 percent of low-income countries," while more than 90 percent of the patients in high-income countries had access to cancer treatment.
Moreover, late-stage diagnoses are recurrent in poorer countries even though "many cancers have a high chance of cure if diagnosed early and treated appropriately." This situation can further affect the capacity of low- and middle-income countries to prevent cancer, said the WHO official.
"Lack of access to quality and affordable diagnosis and treatment are common, particularly in low- and middle-income countries," a situation that Ilbawi reported "has been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic."
According to a latest WHO survey, the global pandemic has created more negative conditions for care of cancer, as "treatment for cancer had been disrupted in more than 40 percent of countries surveyed."
That state of affairs is further complicated by the fact that people living with cancer are at higher risk of severe COVID-19-related illness and death, according to Ilbawi. 
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