Health

Why These Countries Have Lower Cancer Rates

18. Which continent has the highest-rated cancer cases?  Of the top ten countries with the highest total instances, seven are in Europe, with one in four… Trista - April 6, 2021
Seven out of the top 10 countries with the highest cancer cases in the world come from Europe. Credit: Shutterstock

18. Which continent has the highest-rated cancer cases? 

Of the top ten countries with the highest total instances, seven are in Europe, with one in four cancer diagnoses coming from this region. In contrast, Europeans represent about one-tenth of the global population, so the numbers are worrisome. In 2018, Europe had an estimate of 3.9 million new cancer cases and 1.9 million cancer deaths. European countries being at the top for the highest number of cases can be worrisome for the population, especially for northern countries because of their higher level of radon-radiation from the ground, because of substances like coal which are linked to some types of cancers. 

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In places like Ireland, 1 in 3 people will be diagnosed with this disease in their lifetime, with incidence trends for all cancer sites rising, not only in Ireland but also in many other areas. However, it had slowed down in recent years. The types of cancers that have a slower increase are breast and prostate cancer, but there is an increase in colorectal cancer. However, not all is bad news; even with those scary numbers, in recent years, the cancer death rates are steadily decreasing in all of Europe, mostly because of the decreasing death rates from breast, prostate, and lung cancer. Although male mortality rates are dropping, lung cancer rates still rise for women across Europe.

You can implement some changes by early detection and management of cancer. Credit: Shutterstock

17. You can reduce your cancer risk.

Around 30 to 50 percent of cancers that science knows about so far can be prevented with a few lifestyle changes and implementing evidence-based prevention strategies. You can also reduce the risks by early detection and management for patients who develop cancer. Many types of cancers have a higher chance of being cured quickly with just an early diagnosis and the proper treatment. Nevertheless, there are also other ways to help besides going to your doctor at least annually. You can look into modifying and avoiding risk factors, which is not too hard to do. In the end, it might save your life. 

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Doctors have a list of recommendations that include avoiding tobacco use, including cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. These products are the primary reasons people develop lung and throat cancers. Being overweight or obese with an unhealthy diet without low fruit and vegetable intake, plus lack of physical activity, is a big problem, especially in the United States and other developed countries. Other things to avoid include alcohol use, urban air pollution, ionizing and ultraviolet radiation, infection by hepatitis, and sexually transmitted HPV infection. In some cases like HPV, there is a vaccination that can reduce the risks drastically.

Some countries do not have the facilities, workforce, and resources to have the proper treatment. Credit: Shutterstock

16. Lack of treatment facilities is a problem.

It makes a big difference when countries have suitable facilities, specialists, and equipment to treat and manage the journey into recovery and survival. Patients need to have a cost-effective intervention like surgery, radiotherapy, and easy access to oncologic drugs if we want to improve cancer survival worldwide. Sadly, some countries do not have the resources, which means that people will need to travel to another country to get the treatment. But if they can’t afford the expenses, they will end up dying without the help they need. That is a too common occurrence in many middle and low-income countries. One in four people will not get the surgery or treatment they need due to infrastructure and workforce limitations. 

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Around 8 million people die annually because of poor quality care, including many due to cancer. 80% of early-stage and late-stage people need surgery. Unfortunately, one in four patients globally will not get the surgery they need due to infrastructure and workforce limitations or lack of affordability. 60% need radiotherapy to cure certain tumors, relieve symptoms, shrink tumors before surgery, or kill remaining cancer cells after surgery to avoid recurrence. In many countries like Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, and Latin America, the radiotherapy coverage is less than optimal. However, places like Africa are implementing some changes to have the required facilities and workforce.

Israel has the lowest rate of cancer cases on the planet, but there is still much work to do. Credit: Shutterstock

15. Which country has the lowest rate in the world?

The answer is Israel. Being the lowest rate on the planet might sound like an achievement; cancer is still the biggest killer for Israel’s population, followed by heart disease and diabetes. There are around 177 cancer deaths for every 100,000 people, which sounds like a lot, but when you compare it with places like Britain, which has 217 deaths for every 100,000, you can see a difference. This study was made by analyzing all the deaths in Israel in 2016. In that year, almost 44,000 residents died, and 25.2% were claimed by cancer.

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The highest cancer deaths in Israel in men is lung cancer and breast cancer in women. The number of deaths by cancer is getting slightly lower every year. That is primarily because of improvements in some branches of medicine and healthcare. Because of this improvement, even heart-related deaths, which were the leading cause of death in Israel since the 1990s, started declining. It’s a considerable improvement with most health-related issues, but there is still a lot of work to do.

Japan is considered one of the healthiest countries in the world. Credit: Shutterstock

14. Japan is the world’s most lived country.

For decades, scientists and researchers have studied Japan’s population because it is considered one of the world’s healthiest countries. They also have the longest average life expectancy with a low mortality rate with cancer and heart diseases. In the 1960s, it was the opposite; Japan had the shortest life expectancy with high mortality with many diseases, including stomach cancer. However, decades of medical research, better healthcare, and a population taking better care of themselves have made the difference to lower rates. One of the most significant lifestyle changes the population did was being more active and eating healthier. 

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Japan’s diet of fish, vegetables, and low sugar drinks might be the key for the long life expectancy. The lower numbers are thought to be because of a low prevalence of obesity, with a low intake of red meats and saturated fatty acids. They also spend time eating lots of fish, plant foods like soybeans, and low-sugar drinks like green tea. An increase in animal foods, like dairy products, and a decrease in high salty foods helped decrease mortality for other diseases like cerebrovascular ones. It helped with high blood pressure and reduced the chances of stomach cancer. A diet with plant food and fish, a modest quantity of dairy, and being active were the key to a healthier population. 

This country has 211 cases per 100,000 of the population, compared to Britain with 267 cases per 100,000. Credit: Shutterstock

13. Malta with the lowest cancer cases in Europe.

Malta was ranked as the eighth lowest in 50 countries by the World Cancer Research Fund. With 211 cases per 100,000 of the population, Britain had 267 cases per 100,000, ranking 22nd on the list. Health researchers said that even if the numbers are getting lower, other diseases like cardiovascular which are their top killers, are not, which is a problem they are trying to work on. Malta also placed 24th in the breast cancer rates with only 72 cases every 100,000 people every year. Obesity and alcohol consumption with lower levels of physical activity can put you at risk.

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Being a high-income country means that cases can be higher because of higher levels of obesity and alcohol consumption with lower physical activity levels, but that’s not Malta’s case. They have a very centralized health care system which has helped to make the cancer registry more comprehensive. That has allowed to have more screenings and having early detection of any anomalies, saving more lives than in other places. Even with that, they are still working on having a better health system to make half a million people in Malta healthy and make those cancer cases lower every year.

The Czech Republic has a decline in mortality from stomach, colorectal, and breast cancer — and more. Credit: Shutterstock

12. Who had the largest mortality rate drop?

That belongs to the Czech Republic. From 1990 to 2015, their cancer-related mortality rate had dropped significantly by 18%, with declines in mortality from stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, breast, cervical, and ovarian cancer for women, and lung cancer for men. This drop-in mortality also means that people die at a higher age. Nevertheless, this is good news for the Czech Republic; cancer continues to be the number one cause of death, followed by cardiovascular diseases. When some types of cancer types had dropped, others went up, affecting more men than women but not by much.

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Cases of lung cancer are more visible in women than in men in the Czech Republic. Types of cancer like liver, skin, and pancreas are prevalent for both sexes — and lung cancer for women. Researchers have an explanation as to why there’s a gender gap. It is partly because of the greater prevalence because of the risk factors among men, like smoking. Men have a higher mortality burden because of lung cancer, with a total of 22% of all the cancer-related deaths, even though the numbers had decreased for men, while women got higher. Even with all this, it’s excellent news that mortality rates lower down over the last 25 years, which brings us closer to getting rid of it completely.

Rwanda received the HPV vaccine in 2011, helping lower cervical cancer rates in women. Credit: Shutterstock

11. Rwanda is on the road to wipe out cervical cancer.

For many years, Rwanda had some of the highest cervical cancer rates globally, and for the longest time, it felt like there was no way to stop it. It wasn’t until 2011, after many negotiations with the government, that the HPV vaccine came to Rwanda. With thousands of new cases every year in the world, having this vaccine was a game-changer. HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections globally and the 4th most common cancer type. To protect the population, the government took action to make the vaccine available for everyone.

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Since Rwanda didn’t have any cervical cancer screenings in public health facilities, they launched a national strategic plan to prevent, control, and manage cervical lesions and cancer with their new vaccination program. They made it available to women in many places, including schools. The vaccine was administered in schools and strategic locations to reach out to school girls worldwide. Rwanda’s ministry and its high coverage of the HPV vaccine for girls is a giant step to wipe out cervical cancer. It’s an extraordinary public health achievement that we hope other countries will also put into action.  

Researchers worldwide have joined forces to determine what actions to take to control cancer and lower the cases. Credit: Shutterstock

10. Global collaboration to lower cancer rates.

To help lower the number of cancer cases worldwide, researchers from around the globe created The Cancer Atlas. It is a new tool for global leaders to help determine what actions they must take to control cancer and lower the cases. Also, it is a partnership with the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, and the Union for International Cancer Control. With this book and website, they want to feature data highlighting the complex nature of the global cancer landscape. That way, they can work on strategies while analyzing the big global picture.

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The prediction is that by 2030 the number of new cancer cases worldwide will increase from 14 million in 2012 to 22 million. That is because of population growth and aging. However, every country having its own sets of challenges. These include the level of development, risk factors, demographics, and lifestyle patterns. Seeing all the issues from a global perspective can bring solutions that were not thought of. Researchers from all over the world have been working on many data sources to create this tool and take better control. Besides, having this information at hand will make things easier to find better solutions.

Australia has the highest cancer rate in the whole world, and it’s working hard to change that. Credit: Shutterstock

9. What is Australia doing to lower cancer rates?

In the list of the highest cancer rates, Australia is at number one with 468 cancer cases every 100,000 people. Lung cancer is the leading cause of death with over 9,000 people killed and 12,500 new cases in just 2018. Lung cancer is responsible for one in every five cancer diagnoses in the nation. With those alarming numbers, Australia is now fighting to minimize the risk with a government-led public health campaign. It is in collaboration with the Lung Foundation Australia. Together, they wish to mitigate the cases and bring public attention and education of the dangers of smoking, causing 90% of the lung cancer cases.

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A few campaigns were launched across Australia. The most well-done is the “QuitNow” campaign, encouraging people to stop smoking. It is also used to inform and educate the population of the health benefits that cessation has and help families and friends of smokers. The government is putting very graphic pictures of what smoking does to your body. They target the lungs, heart, and brain, with added health warnings to reduce youth smoking rates. So far, all the implementations and education have been successful. They already see a drop in cases, deaths, and cigarette sales are lower. 

China is developing a nanometer material to complement radiotherapy and combat liver cancer. Credit: Shutterstock

8. China is creating a new treatment for liver cancer.

Liver cancer is one of the most common types and one of the most aggressive, with a 5-year survival rate of 28%. China has the highest liver cancer rate globally and is the second leading cause of premature death in adults 30-60 years old. Fortunately, the cases and deaths are now decreasing. Why? It is thanks to programs for preventing aflatoxin exposure and familial transmission of hepatitis B virus. The virus is one of the two major contributors to liver cancer. What is even better, they are working on creating a material to treat this disease.

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Chinese scientists are developing a nanometer material integrated with radiotherapy. It will provide an efficient and safe strategy for treating liver cancer. Even if radiotherapy is a standard form of treating cancer, hypoxic microenvironments prevalent in solid tumors are not sensitive to radiation, allowing some cancer cells to survive and continue spreading. So scientists at the Suzhou Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Technology are fabricating a nanoparticle made of silicon dioxide and gold. It can reach tumor tissues by intravenous injection, enhancing the sensitivity of tumor tissue to radiation, making radiotherapy more effective.

The Netherlands is looking for ways to make people healthier by using bicycles instead of cars. Credit: Shutterstock

7. The Netherlands promoting cycling to get people moving.

Being the number ten in the ranking for the highest cancer deaths, with 334 cases every 100,000 people, the Netherlands is looking for ways to make people healthier and active by investing 552 million Euros on bicycle infrastructure. You may be asking yourself why, well not only is it better for the environment, by using bikes instead of cars, but it’s also a way to fight this disease. Most of the most common types in the Netherlands are associated with excess body weight and physical inactivity. Just by keeping their citizens on the move, it had lower deaths by 6,500.

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They are making a freeway for cyclists, which have routes connecting cities 10 miles apart and adding 25,000 more bike parking spaces around Amsterdam’s Central Station, Heerlen Station, and Rotterdam Central. They aim to get 200,000 people added to the 17 million that already use this transportation method. Since distances between cities are short, since the 1960s the urban planning has ensured that The Netherlands has a way to reduce traffic. This solution to push people to use a more active transportation method saves lives, helps pollution, and educates the citizens on getting in shape.

This country’s government is fighting health care inequality by making public health insurance. Credit: Shutterstock

6. Mexico’s health insurance fighting health inequities. 

In 2020, breast cancer was the most deadly type of cancer among Mexican women, while prostate cancer caused the largest number of deaths among Mexican male patients. Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death among Mexican children. So in 2002, the government of Mexico, to reduce health inequities, created Seguro Popular as public health insurance that can cover a wide range of services without any co-pays. Before making this Universal Health insurance, only half of the Mexican population had health insurance, mainly through their employer. The rest, like the self-employed, unemployed, and underemployed, didn’t have any other choice than to access health services via public providers with co-pay or paying for private care. Mexico’s Seguro Popular health care will cover rates between indigenous and non-indigenous populations.

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Today, Seguro Popular offers universal health coverage mandatory and has improved access to care, treatment, and survival to many people, raising the survival rate for breast cancer and childhood cancer patients. Seguro Popular is gradually expanding to include 55.6 million more people, and between 2009 and 2013, around 24 million people joined, with over 22 million affiliates receiving a preventive health risk screening. It had also virtually eliminated the gap in insurance coverage rates between indigenous and non-indigenous populations, offering the same advances in narrowing service utilization gaps and even health outcomes. 

The tax revenue will go to improving the infrastructure and health care system. Credit: Shutterstock

5. The Philippines is taxing people for smoking.

We all know how harmful smoking tobacco can be for humans. Lung cancer is on the rise in the Philippines, making the government find ways to lower the cases by creating a new tobacco tax law that increases the cigarette taxes, with an incremental increase every three years and a 5% indexation from 2024 onwards. All this new tax revenue will go to universal healthcare for low-income people, improve health infrastructure, and help tobacco farming communities. This law will save thousands of people, providing them with the right health care for early detection and treatment. 

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The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that this new tobacco tax measure will save around 260,000 lives by 2023 and decrease deaths attributed to smoking. It will also reduce the number of cigarette smokers by one million, just with this tobacco tax rate. This law will also apply to the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems and heated tobacco products. There is still work to be done, like restricting the marketing and promotion of electronic nicotine delivery systems and heated tobacco products, especially those with unproven health claims. However, this is a giant step to lower the cases and save more lives. 

Access Initiative for Quitting Tobacco donated nicotine replacement therapy to help thousands of Jordanians quit smoking during the COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: Shutterstock

4. Jordan is getting rid of smoking during the pandemic.

There is a silver lining during this COVID-19 crisis. There is evidence that shows that smokers are more vulnerable than non-smokers in the pandemic. Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health, with their partnership with the Access Initiative for Quitting tobacco, decided to donate $800,000 worth of nicotine replacement therapy that aims to help thousands of Jordanians and refugees to quit smoking during the pandemic. This donation to the Ministry of Health in Jordan will also come with free counseling free of charge to help people quit smoking. It is available for anyone that needs it.

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Expanding these services within their primary health care will also help the 5,400 frontline workers that have their hands busy at the moment. Jordan is the first country to take this help. It is a joint initiative between the World Health Organization, the UN Interagency Task Force on NCD Prevention and Control, and the Coalition for Access to NCD Medicines and Products. This initiative is designed to help countries have a smoking cessation service. The service will help physically with nicotine replacement therapy and tobacco’s mental addiction. We will have to wait and see how effective this will be for lowering the cases of lung cancer.

Child obesity and lack of exercise can lead to childhood cancer. Credit: Shutterstock

3. Mongolia is not taking breaks to lower mortality rates.

Mongolia is on the list of the highest mortality rates due to non-communicable diseases, including most cancers. In 2018 alone, six of the ten deaths in Mongolia were due to cardiovascular disease or cancer. With a high population being smokers, the high risk of child and adult obesity has increased over the last two decades. The government approved a National Sustainable Development Vision 2030, which will reduce mortality by cancer and other diseases to 17 cases out of 10,000 people. This plan will ensure their healthcare system has an upgrade to work on lowering the death numbers.

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The Mongolian Government Ministry of Health joined forces with the World Health Organization and the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They create a guide on identifying patients at high risk of non-communicable disease and using an ePrescription to gather essential data. With this, people will better understand the risk factors, get better health financing, and improve evidence-based management in primary care. They can also strengthen mechanisms for monitoring, capacity building, and surveillance. It will also help train the clinical staff, get new resources and get new equipment to improve patient care and offer the proper treatment.

Because of poor awareness and lack of a screening policy, Nigeria has alarmingly high cervical cancer cases. Credit: Shutterstock

2. First Ladies of Nigeria in the quest of eliminating cervical cancer.

Nigeria has one of the highest numbers for cervical cancer in the world. In 2018 alone, they reported over 15,000 cases and over 10,000 deaths from this disease. However, these cases deal with poor awareness mixed with a flawed healthcare system. They lacks a screening policy and accurate diagnostic tools that are so important to lower mortality. So in August of 2020, 194 countries took a stand against cervical cancer and committed to eliminating it. The First Ladies of Nigeria is an organization that serves as advocacy to increase awareness, access to cancer care and influence policy direction in Nigeria to reduce the cases in the country. They are calling into action to eliminate cervical cancer by the end of 2030. 

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The First Ladies call other countries to get on the same path for cervical cancer elimination with some targets in mind to achieve it by 2030. In the objectives, they have vaccinating 90% of girls younger than 15 years old with the HPV vaccine. Also, 70% of women screened twice in their lifetime, using a high-performance test. Furthermore, having 90% of the women identified with cervical cancer receive the treatment. Even if it’s a very ambitious objective, the First Ladies of Nigeria are committed to their mission. Even with the dismal healthcare delivery and production rate of the vaccines, they aim to change that. These ladies wish to get rid of this disease once and for all.   

Overexposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun can put you at risk of getting skin cancer. Credit: Shutterstock

1. America and its mission to prevent skin cancer.

Skin cancer is one of the most common types, just in the United States. Almost 5 million people are treated for skin cancer, and new cases keep growing. Most types of skin cancer are caused by overexposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and tanning devices. With 82,000 diagnosed every year and 8,000 fatalities from it, it has become the National Center of Chronic Diseases, something to educate about, especially because teens and young adults are more in danger. Learning how to protect yourself from ultraviolet radiation will help you not to become a victim of it.  

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The CDC is working to prevent this disease by detecting it early and reducing the health care cost. One of the best ways to reduce skin cancer is to make sure that when having fun in the sun, especially if it’s a daily habit, to avoid sun tanning and indoor tanning at all costs. The CDC also works with communities and decision-makers to increase shade at playgrounds, public pools, and other public spaces. It is also vital to promote sun protection by using sunscreen, sunglasses, hats that can protect you from the rays. 

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