Colorectal and pancreatic cancer rates up 10% in last 30 years, reveals major study
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.
(Barcelona, October 22, 2019) The results of a major study across 195 countries, presented today 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% over the 27-year study period, from 195,000 in 1990 to 448,000 in 2017
– Gastric (stomach) 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 (IBD) 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.”
Pancreatic cancer patients more likely to survive in 1990 than today
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-standardised incidence and death rates for pancreatic cancer increased by 12% and 10% respectively. Of note, the highest incidence and death rates were found in higher-income countries.
Experts believe the increase is related to a rise in the prevalence of obesity and diabetes, as reflected by the risk factors of high BMI and higher blood glucose levels which are two of the leading risk factors for pancreatic cancer.
Professor Reza Malekzadeh, lead author of the study, 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.”
Screening key in reducing the burden of colorectal cancer
From 1990 to 2017, age-standardised incidence rates for colorectal cancer increased 9.5% globally but, by contrast, age-standardised death rates decreased by 13.5%. The researchers believe that this is due to the introduction of colorectal cancer screening programmes, leading to earlier detection and an increased chance of survival. Similarly, in countries where screening programmes were established two or three decades ago, reductions in death rates were observed, supporting the benefits attributable to screening interventions.
The study also indicated that the risk factors for colorectal cancer are different in males and females, and should therefore be considered in national policy and prevention programmes. Alcohol use, smoking and diets low in calcium, milk and fibre had a considerable burden on males. For females, dietary risks, but not alcohol use or smoking, were found to be the most attributable risks.
Experts recommend local strategies to tackle gastric cancer
Age-standardised incidence and death rates for gastric cancer decreased steadily between 1990 and 2017. However, this decline has not necessarily led to a lower burden on the health system in high-risk countries and experts believe that specific local strategies should be tailored to each country’s risk factor profile.
“This research shows how gastric cancer presents vast geographical variations, and understanding these differential trends is essential for formulating effective preventative strategies”, commented Professor Reza Malekzadeh. “Beyond the current decline in incidence and death rates, a decrease in the absolute number of cases and deaths will be possible if the burden in east Asia, where currently almost half of the cases and deaths occur, is further reduced.”
Notes to Editors
For further information, or to arrange an expert interview with, please contact Luke Paskins on +44 (0)1444 811099 or +44 (0) 7732 499170 or [email protected]
We kindly ask that a reference to UEG Week 2019 is included when communicating any information within this press release.
About Professor Herbert Tilg
Professor Herbert Tilg is the Chair of the UEG Scientific Committee and a Professor at the Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria.
About Professor Reza Malekzadeh
Professor Reza Malekzadeh is a Professor of Medicine and Director of the Digestive Disease Institute at Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
About UEG Week
UEG Week is the largest and most prestigious gastroenterology meeting in Europe and has developed into a global congress. It attracts over 14,000 participants each year, from more than 120 countries, and numbers are steadily rising. UEG Week provides a forum for basic and clinical scientists from across the globe to present their latest research in digestive and liver diseases, and also features a two-day postgraduate course that brings together top lecturers in their fields for a weekend of interactive learning.
UEG, or United European Gastroenterology, is a professional non-profit organisation combining all the leading European medical specialist and national societies focusing on digestive health. Together, its member societies represent over 30,000 specialists, working across medicine, surgery, paediatrics, gastrointestinal oncology and endoscopy. This makes UEG the most comprehensive organisation of its kind in the world, and a unique platform for collaboration and the exchange of knowledge.
To advance the standards of gastroenterological care and knowledge across the world and to reduce the burden of digestive diseases, UEG offers numerous activities and initiatives, including:
- UEG Week, the biggest congress of its kind in Europe, and one of the two largest in the world
- UEG Education, the universal source of knowledge in gastroenterology, providing online and classroom courses, a huge online library and delivering the latest GI news, fostering debate and discussion
- Activity Grants, promoting and funding educational projects in the field of digestive health to advance and harmonise the training and continuing education of professionals
- UEG Journal, covering translational and clinical studies from all areas of gastroenterology
- Public Affairs, promoting research, prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of digestive diseases, and helping develop an effective health policy for Europe
- Quality of Care, European-based and English clinical practice guidelines, clinical standards, consensus, position papers and standard protocols in the field of digestive health, are available in the repository.
Find out more about UEG’s work by visiting http://www.
Luke Paskins on +44 (0)1444 811099 or [email protected]
1. Malekzadeh, R. et al (2019). The global, regional and national burden of pancreatic cancer and its attributable risk factors in 195 countries and territories, 1990-2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. Presented at UEG Week Barcelona 2019, October 22, 2019. Published in The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
2. Malekzadeh, R. et al (2019). The global, regional and national burden of colorectal cancer and its attributable risk factors in 195 countries and territories, 1990-2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. Presented at UEG Week Barcelona 2019, October 22, 2019. Published in The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
3. Malekzadeh, R. et al (2019). The global, regional and national burden of stomach cancer in 195 countries, 1990-2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. Presented at UEG Week Barcelona 2019, October 22, 2019. Published in The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
4. Malekzadeh, R. et al (2019). The global, regional and national burden of inflammatory bowel disease in 195 countries and territories, 1990-2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. Presented at UEG Week Barcelona 2019, October 22, 2019. Published in The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology.