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Special Communication
July 2015

The Global Burden of Cancer 2013

Global Burden of Disease Cancer Collaboration
JAMA Oncol. 2015;1(4):505-527. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.0735

Importance  Cancer is among the leading causes of death worldwide. Current estimates of cancer burden in individual countries and regions are necessary to inform local cancer control strategies.

Objective  To estimate mortality, incidence, years lived with disability (YLDs), years of life lost (YLLs), and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) for 28 cancers in 188 countries by sex from 1990 to 2013.

Evidence Review  The general methodology of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 2013 study was used. Cancer registries were the source for cancer incidence data as well as mortality incidence (MI) ratios. Sources for cause of death data include vital registration system data, verbal autopsy studies, and other sources. The MI ratios were used to transform incidence data to mortality estimates and cause of death estimates to incidence estimates. Cancer prevalence was estimated using MI ratios as surrogates for survival data; YLDs were calculated by multiplying prevalence estimates with disability weights, which were derived from population-based surveys; YLLs were computed by multiplying the number of estimated cancer deaths at each age with a reference life expectancy; and DALYs were calculated as the sum of YLDs and YLLs.

Findings  In 2013 there were 14.9 million incident cancer cases, 8.2 million deaths, and 196.3 million DALYs. Prostate cancer was the leading cause for cancer incidence (1.4 million) for men and breast cancer for women (1.8 million). Tracheal, bronchus, and lung (TBL) cancer was the leading cause for cancer death in men and women, with 1.6 million deaths. For men, TBL cancer was the leading cause of DALYs (24.9 million). For women, breast cancer was the leading cause of DALYs (13.1 million). Age-standardized incidence rates (ASIRs) per 100 000 and age-standardized death rates (ASDRs) per 100 000 for both sexes in 2013 were higher in developing vs developed countries for stomach cancer (ASIR, 17 vs 14; ASDR, 15 vs 11), liver cancer (ASIR, 15 vs 7; ASDR, 16 vs 7), esophageal cancer (ASIR, 9 vs 4; ASDR, 9 vs 4), cervical cancer (ASIR, 8 vs 5; ASDR, 4 vs 2), lip and oral cavity cancer (ASIR, 7 vs 6; ASDR, 2 vs 2), and nasopharyngeal cancer (ASIR, 1.5 vs 0.4; ASDR, 1.2 vs 0.3). Between 1990 and 2013, ASIRs for all cancers combined (except nonmelanoma skin cancer and Kaposi sarcoma) increased by more than 10% in 113 countries and decreased by more than 10% in 12 of 188 countries.

Conclusions and Relevance  Cancer poses a major threat to public health worldwide, and incidence rates have increased in most countries since 1990. The trend is a particular threat to developing nations with health systems that are ill-equipped to deal with complex and expensive cancer treatments. The annual update on the Global Burden of Cancer will provide all stakeholders with timely estimates to guide policy efforts in cancer prevention, screening, treatment, and palliation.