Societal impact

Chronic diseases such as cancer are a huge burden for the healthcare sector globally. According to WHO data, cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020.

The most common causes of cancer death in 2020 were:

  • lung (1.80 million deaths);
  • colon and rectum (916 000 deaths);
  • liver (830 000 deaths);
  • stomach (769 000 deaths); and
  • breast (685 000 deaths).

Risk factors for cancer include tobacco use, alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet and genetical factors. Additionally, some chronic infections are risk factors for cancer; this is a particular issue in low- and middle-income countries. Approximately 13% of cancers diagnosed in 2018 globally were attributed to carcinogenic infections, including Helicobacter pylori.