According to The World Health Organization (WHO), Cancer arises from one single cell. The transformation from a normal cell into a tumor cell is a multistage process, typically a progression from pre-cancerous lesion to malignant tumors. These changes are a result of the interaction between a person's genetic factors and three categories of external agents, including:

- Physical carcinogens, such as ultraviolet and ionizing radiation;

- Chemical carcinogens, such as asbestos, components of tobacco smoke, aflatoxin (a food contaminant), and arsenic (a drinking water contaminant)

-Biological carcinogens, such as infections from certain viruses, bacteria or parasites.

Tobacco use, alcohol use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity are the main cancer risk factors worldwide.

From the "WHO Media Centre"

​- Cancers figure among the leading causes of death worldwide, accounting for 8.2 million deaths in 2012. (1)

- Lung, liver, stomach, colorectal and breast cancers cause the most cancer deaths each year.

- The most frequent types of cancer differ between men and women.

- About 30% of cancer deaths are due to the five leading behavioral and dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, alcohol use.

-Tobacco use is the most important risk factor for cancer causing over 20% of global cancer deaths and about 70% of global lung cancer deaths.

- Cancer causing viral infections such as HBV/HCV and HPV are responsible for up to 20% of cancer deaths in low-and-middle-income countries. (2).

- More than 60% of the  world's total new annual cases occur in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America. These regions account for 70% of the world's cancer deaths. (1)

- It is expected that annual cancer cases will rise from 14 million in 2012 to 22 million within the next two decades. (1)

Just in the United States...

How Many New Cases Are Expected to Occur This Year? (3)

About 1,665,540 new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2014. This estimate does not include carcinoma in situ (noninvasive cancer) of any site except urinary bladder, nor does it include basal cell or squamous cell skin cancers, which are not required to be reported to cancer registries.

Who Is at Risk of Developing Cancer? (3)

Anyone can develop cancer. Since the risk of being diagnosed with cancer increases with age, most cases occur in adults who are middle aged or older. About 77% of all cancers are diagnosed in people 55 years of age or older. Cancer researchers use the word "risk" in different ways, most commonly expressing risk as lifetime risk or relative risk. In this publication, lifetime risk refers to the probability that an individual will develop or die from cancer over the course of a lifetime. In the US men have slightly less than 1 in 2 lifetime risk of developing cancer; for women the risk is a little more than 1 in 3. It is important to note that these probabilities are estimated based on overall experience of the general population. Individuals within the population may have higher or lower risk because of differences in exposure (e. g., smoking), and/or genetic susceptibility.

Can Cancer Be Prevented? (3)

A substantial proportion of cancers could be prevented. All cancers caused by Cigarette smoking and heavy use of alcohol could be prevented completely. In 2014, almost 176,000 of the estimated 585, 720 cancer deaths will be caused by tobacco use.


1. Globocan 2012, IARC

​2. de Martel C, Ferlay J, Franceschi S, et al. Global burden of cancers attributable to infections in 2008: a review and synthetic analysis. The Lancet Oncology 2012; 13: 607-615.

3. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2014 Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2014.

​Facts About Cancer

(For Global Cancer Awareness)


Global Cancer Awareness Video