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WHO Report Confirms Breast Cancer Remains Threat to Women Around the World

A World Health Organization report showing breast cancer is now the most common form of cancer among women around the world tells us the disease is still impacting millions of women each year. We’ve made significant progress in early detection and effective treatment, but so much work remains to save lives, no matter where a woman lives.

According to WHO, female breast cancer was the most-commonly-diagnosed cancer among women in 2020, with an estimated 2.3 million new cases (11.7%), followed by lung (11.4%), colon (10%), prostate (7.3%), and stomach (5.6%) cancers. Breast cancer is also the leading cause of cancer deaths among women worldwide.

Additionally, breast cancer is rising in countries where incidence rates had been low for many years. The burden is particularly high in Low and Middle Income Countries, where access to early diagnosis, coordinated care, and stigma associated with cancer remain significant challenges. By 2040, it is projected that 70 percent of new breast cancer deaths will occur in Low and Middle Income Countries.

The sobering report from the WHO is a reminder that breast cancer has not been sheltering in place during COVID 19 and is having a devastating impact on women in the US and around the world. It shows the burden of disease on women and is especially concerning to Komen since women are bearing the brunt of the pandemic – losing their jobs and caring for families – putting them in a much more vulnerable place.

To address this problem the WHO is launching a new global breast cancer initiative, a collaborative effort between WHO and other global leaders and organizations, including Susan G. Komen. This initiative, led by Komen Scholar Ben Anderson, will work to reduce breast cancer deaths around the world by promoting breast health, improving timely cancer detection, and ensuring access to high-quality care.

As WHO’s report makes clear, breast cancer is a global problem that will require a global solution. It will require collaboration among individuals, organizations, and governments to address this challenge and save lives. Komen is committed working with partners across the globe to overcome barriers to care and support patients throughout the continuum of care or to ensure patient have access to timely, affordable, high-quality care, no matter where they live.