The Top 5 Countries with the Lowest Cancer Rates

  Country Cancer Rate
(age standardized)
Cumulative Cancer Risk
1 Niger 63.4 per 100,000 persons 6.69
2 The Gambia 68.2 per 100,000 persons 4.59
3 Cape Verde 74.9 per 100,000 persons 7.47
4 Bhutan 79.2 per 100,000 persons 8.63
5 Yemen 80.4 per 100,000 persons 8.36
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 Special Report
  1. Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide and accounted for 7.6 million deaths (around 13% of all deaths) in 2008.
  2. According to the WHO, more than 70% of all cancer deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries around the world. Deaths from cancer worldwide are projected to continue to rise to over 11 million in 2030. Tobacco use, alcohol use, unhealthy diet, and chronic infections from hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and some types of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) are leading risk factors for cancer in low- and middle-income countries. Cervical cancer, which is caused by HPV, is a leading cause of cancer death among women in low-income countries. One in eight deaths worldwide is due to cancer. Worldwide, cancer causes more deaths than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in economically developed countries (following heart diseases) and the third leading cause of death in developing countries (following heart diseases and diarrhoeal diseases). The burden of cancer is increasing in developing countries as childhood mortality and deaths from infectious diseases decline and more people live to older ages. Further, as people in developing countries adopt western lifestyle behaviours, such as cigarette smoking, higher consumption of saturated fat and calorie-dense foods, and reduced physical activity, rates of cancers common in western countries will rise if preventive measures are not widely applied. (a.,b.)
  3. More than 30% of cancer could be prevented by modifying or avoiding key risk factors, including:
    1. tobacco use
    2. being overweight or obese
    3. low fruit and vegetable intake
    4. physical inactivity
    5. sexually transmitted HPV-infection
    6. urban air pollution
    7. indoor smoke from household use of solid fuels (a.)
  4. The observation that cancer incidence is different around the world, that it changes over time, and that migrants from low-risk countries attain the risk of their new country has effectively contributed to the idea that cancer is a consequence of several environmental risk factors in the broad sense, including physical, chemical, and biological factors in the living and occupational environment as well as behavioral and sociocultural factors such as diet, smoking, alcohol con- sumption, and fertility. (c.)
  5. For certain cancers, there are large survival differences between economically developed and developing countries. For example, five-year survival rates for breast cancer in the United States are approximately 81%, compared to 32% in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is mostly due to the greater availability of early detection and more effective treatments in North America than in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is also due, in part, to detecting cancers earlier in the course of disease through screening and detecting some cancers that might not progress. (b.)
Top 5 facts sources:
  1. World Health Organization. (2011). Fact Sheet N297. Retrieved: May 11th, 2011.
  2. World Health Organization. (2007). Global Cancer Facts and Figures 2007. Retrieved: May 11th, 2011.
  3. Zakeli. P.M. (2007). Cancer epidemiology. Retrieved: May 11th, 2011.
Tags: Top 5 Lowest, Top 5 Least, Cancer statistics

Sources:  GLOBOCAN 2012: Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: GLOBOCAN 2012, IARC -4.2.2014 [Internet].

List Notes: Cancer rate is 100,000 persons per year and is age-standardized. An age-standardized rate is the rate that a population would have if it had a standard age structure. Standardization is necessary when comparing several populations that differ with respect to age because age has a powerful influence on the risk of cancer. Cumulative risk is the risk of getting or dying from the disease before age 75. It is expressed as the number of new-born children (out of 100) who would be expected to develop/die from cancer before the age of 75 in the absence of other causes of death. Data excludes non-melanoma skin cancer. List last accessed by top 5 of Anything: February 4th, 2014.

Please note: According to GLOBOCAN the increasing availability of incidence data from cancer registries and mortality data from vital statistics offices, coupled with the fine-tuning of the estimation methods means that the current incidence and mortality estimates for 2012 cannot be directly compared to estimates from previous versions (e.g. GLOBOCAN 2008). Thus data and country rankings have changed from the previous list found on Top 5 of
Countries with the Lowest Cancer Rates

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