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Cancer profiles 2020 head

February 2020

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the Americas, with an estimated 3.8 million people diagnosed, and 1.4 million people dying from the disease, in 2018.

The most common cancers in men are prostate (21.7%), lung (9.5%), and colorectal (8.0%).  Among women, the most common cancers are breast (25.2%), lung (8.5%), and colorectal (8.2%).

Cancer can be prevented and controlled by implementing evidence-based strategies for cancer prevention, screening and early detection, treatment and palliative care.

The most common modifiable risk factors for cancer, which are shared with many other noncommunicable diseases, are:

  • tobacco use
  • harmful use of alcohol
  • low fruit and vegetable intake
  • lack of physical activity

In Latin America and the Caribbean, cervical cancer continues to be among the most common cancers in women, and it can be prevented through HPV vaccination, screening and treatment of pre-cancerous lesions. 

If no further action is taken, it is anticipated that by 2030, the number of people newly diagnosed with cancer will increase by 32% to more than 5 million people each year in the Americas, largely due to the aging population, changing lifestyles and exposure to cancer risk factors.

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