Which countries currently have a higher and lower than average cancer incidence for the four common types and how will this change?

Breast Cancer

  • Higher Incidence: Developed countries, particularly in North America and Western Europe, tend to have higher rates of breast cancer and this will continue. This is often attributed to lifestyle factors, reproductive behaviours (having fewer children and having them later in life), and widespread screening programs that lead to early detection.
  • Lower Incidence: African and Asian countries generally have lower rates of breast cancer. However, these rates are increasing as these countries undergo economic development and adopt Western lifestyle patterns. Making sound predictions would require granular data on risk factors, demographics, detection rates, and health systems for each major country over the target time-frame.

Lung cancer

  • Higher incidence: high income countries like US, Europe, Japan and East Asia with historically high smoking rates, and in some areas, air pollution.
  • Lower Incidence: Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of South America have lower lung cancer rates, which can be correlated with lower smoking rates and other environmental factors. The incidence of lung cancer will decline in countries with effective tobacco control such as North America and much of Europe.

Prostate cancer

  • Higher Incidence: North America, the Caribbean, and Northern Europe see higher rates of prostate cancer, partly due to widespread screening practices using serum prostate specific antigen (PSA) that lead to early detection.
  • Lower Incidence: Asian countries generally have lower rates of prostate cancer.: Global trends in prostate cancer incidence will likely be influenced by changes in screening practices and the aging population. By 2050, these trends may shift due to various factors including screening tests with greater sensitivity and specificity.

Colon cancer

  • Higher Incidence: North America, Europe, and Australia have higher rates of colorectal cancer, which are often linked to dietary factors (high consumption of red and processed meat, low fibre intake), obesity, and sedentary lifestyles.
  • Lower Incidence: African and South Asian countries have lower rates, though these rates are rising with the adoption of Western diets and lifestyle changes.