Cancer rates by Human Development Index

Overall, cancer incidence is higher in more developed countries, but rates of cancer are rising in many lower income countries.

Overall, cancer incidence is higher in more developed countries, but rates of cancer are rising in many lower income countries.

On this page you can find out about differences in cancer incidence and mortality between more and less developed regions. We are using the United Nations Human Development Index to make these comparisons.

Overall, the number of cancer cases and the age-standardised cancer rate (including non-melanoma skin cancer) is higher in more developed countries. There were an estimated 9,296,171 cases of cancer per 100,000 people in areas with very high human development, compared with 812,211 in areas with low human development in 2022.

There are also more deaths from cancer in more developed areas. There were an estimated 96 deaths from cancer per 100,000 people in areas with very high human development, compared with 77.3 in areas with low human development in 2022.

ASR = age-standardised rates. These are a summary measure of the rate of disease that a population would have if it had a standard age structure. Standardisation is necessary when comparing populations that differ with respect to age because age has a powerful influence on the risk of dying from cancer.

Estimated cancer incidence, including non-melanoma skin cancer, both sexes

PopulationNumberASR (World)
Very high HDI country9,296,171285.7
High HDI country7,436,122187.5
Medium HDI country2,424,245112.3
Low HDI country812,211196.9
Total19,968,749196.9

Estimated cancer incidence, excluding non-melanoma skin cancer, both cancers

PopulationNumberASR (World)
Very high HDI country8,252,293261.3
High HDI country7,292,320184.2
Medium HDI country2,396,040111.0
Low HDI country794,057108.1
Total18,734,710186.5

Estimated cancer mortality, including non-melanoma skin cancer, both sexes

PopulationNumberASR/100,000
Very high HDI country3,643,50296.0
High HDI country3,991,27294.5
Medium HDI country1,560,05473.1
Low HDI country544,60077.3
Total9,739,42891.7

Estimated cancer mortality, excluding non-melanoma skin cancer, both sexes

PopulationNumberASR (World)
Very high HDI country3,619,66895.5
High HDI country3,963,86793.9
Medium HDI country1,550,01272.6
Low HDI country536,49676.0
Total9,670,04391.1

Notes

The Human Development Index measures average achievement in three key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, knowledge, and a decent standard of living.

The health dimension is assessed by life expectancy at birth. The education dimension is measured by mean years of schooling for adults aged 25 years and more, and expected years of schooling for children. The standard of living dimension is measured by gross national income per capita.

The scores for the three indices are then aggregated into a composite index. The Human Development Index captures only part of what human development entails. It does not reflect on inequalities, poverty, human security, empowerment or many other factors. More information can be found here.