Global burden of 34 cancers among women in 2020 and projections to 2040: population-based data from 185 countries/territories

Habtamu Mellie Bizuayehu, Abel F. Dadi, Tahir A. Hassen, Daniel Bekele Ketema, Kedir Y. Ahmed, Zemenu Y. Kassa, Erkihun Amsalu, Getiye Dejenu Kibret, Addisu Alehegn Alemu, Animut Alebel, Jemal E. Shifa, Yibeltal Assefa, Gizachew A. Tessema, Peter Sarich, Aster Ferede Gebremedhin, Meless G. Bore

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Globally women face inequality in cancer outcomes; for example, smaller improvements in life expectancy due to decreased cancer-related deaths than men (0.5 vs 0.8 years, 1981-2010). However, comprehensive global evidence on the burden of cancer among women (including by reproductive age spectrum) as well as disparities by region, remains limited. This study aimed to address these evidence gaps by considering 34 cancer types in 2020 and their projections for 2040. The cancer burden among women in 2020 was estimated using population-based data from 185 countries/territories sourced from GLOBOCAN. Mortality to Incidence Ratios (MIR), a proxy for survival, were estimated by dividing the age-standardised mortality rates by the age-standardised incidence rates. Demographic projections were performed to 2040. In 2020, there were an estimated 9.3 million cancer cases and 4.4 million cancer deaths globally. Projections showed an increase to 13.3 million (↑44%) and 7.1 million (↑60%) in 2040, respectively, with larger proportional increases in low- and middle-income countries. MIR among women was higher (poorer survival) in rare cancers and with increasing age. Countries with low Human Development Indexes (HDIs) had higher MIRs (69%) than countries with very high HDIs (30%). There was inequality in cancer incidence and mortality worldwide among women in 2020, which will further widen by 2040. Implementing cancer prevention efforts and providing basic cancer treatments by expanding universal health coverage through a human rights approach, expanding early screening opportunities and strengthening medical infrastructure are key to improving and ensuring equity in cancer control and outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1377-1393
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number8
Early online date7 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2023. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • adolescents and young adults
  • age-standardised incidence rates
  • age-standardised mortality rates
  • burden
  • cancer
  • global cancer observatory
  • menopause
  • mortality-to-incidence ratio
  • projections
  • women


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