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Infographic: Global cancer death rates declining or holding steady

The overall global trends on cancer mortality … tells a story which at first glance can seem conflicting.

The total number of deaths from cancer is increasing. This is predominantly a result of aging (and growing) populations. Once we correct the number of deaths for population size, we see that cancer death rates have approximately flatlined; then when further corrected for age we see that globally, death rates are falling. This represents progress, although very slow.

Death rates have the limitation of being unable to account for the burden of disease from illness or disability – they therefore capture only mortality, and not morbidity. Another metric used to measure disease burden is Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) lost. DALYs are used to measure total burden of disease – both from years of life lost and years lived with a disability. One DALY equals one lost year of healthy life.

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