The World Health Organization (WHO) called here on Friday for global efforts to combat cancer, which caused some 7.6 million deaths in 2005.
Cancer is a leading cause of death globally, and 84 million people will die in the next 10 years if action is not taken, Dr. Catherine Le Gales-Camus, WHO assistant director-general for noncommunicable diseases and mental health, told reporters at a press conference.
She said the WHO has proposed a global goal of reducing chronic disease death rates by 2 percent per annum from 2006 to 2015. Achievement of this goal would avert over 8 million of the projected 84 million deaths due to cancer in the next decade, she said.
According to the official, more than 70 percent of all cancer deaths occur in low and middle-income countries, where resources available for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer are limited or nonexistent.
"We must, first and foremost, address the tremendous inequalities between developed and developing countries in terms of cancer prevention, treatment and care," Le Gales-Camus said.
It is estimated that over 40 percent of all cancer can be prevented. However, dramatic increases in risk factors such as tobacco use and obesity are contributing to the rise in cancer rates, particularly in low and middle-income countries.
Tobacco use alone accounts for some 1.5 million cancer deaths per year, WHO figures show.