Global Burden of Disease study: Colorectal, pancreatic cancer rates up 10% in last 30 years

By News Release


The results of a major study across 195 countries, presented Oct. 21 at UEG Week Barcelona 2019, indicate that global death rates for pancreatic cancer and incidence rates for colorectal cancer both increased by 10% between 1990 and 2017.

The Global Burden of Disease study is the first to provide comprehensive worldwide estimates of the burden, epidemiological features and risk factors of a number of digestive diseases. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the study has also been published today in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology.

Key findings also include:

  • The number of pancreatic cancer cases increased by 130%, from 195,000 in 1990 to 448,000 in 2017
  • Gastric cancer dropped from the second leading cause of cancer death worldwide to the third, behind both lung and colorectal cancer
  • The number of cases of inflammatory bowel disease increased 84%, from 3.7 million in 1990 to 6.8 million in 2017

Commenting on the study, Professor Herbert Tilg, Chair of the UEG Scientific Committee, stated, "This analysis provides the most comprehensive picture of the global burden of digestive disease to date. Examining these cross-populational trends offers vital information on the changing burden of disease and aids the correct allocation of resources to improve patient outcomes."

As well as an increase in pancreatic cancer cases, the number of deaths also rose from 196,000 in 1990 to 448,000 in 2017. Whilst some of this increase can be explained by the rising population and longevity, even after accounting for population changes, age-standardized incidence and death rates for pancreatic cancer increased by 12% and 10% respectively.

Professor Reza Malekzadeh, lead author, commented, "Pancreatic cancer is one of the world's deadliest cancers, with an overall five-year survival rate of just 5% in high, middle and low-income countries. Major risk factors for the disease, such as smoking, diabetes and obesity, are largely modifiable and present a huge opportunity for prevention."

From 1990 to 2017, age-standardized incidence rates for colorectal cancer increased 9.5% globally but, by contrast, age-standardized death rates decreased by 13.5%. Researchers believe that this is due to the introduction of colorectal cancer screening programs, leading to earlier detection and an increased chance of survival.  


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Global Burden of Disease study: Colorectal, pancreatic cancer rates up 10% in last 30 years.  Appl Rad Oncol. 

By News Release| October 22, 2019

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