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Cancer Epidemiol. 2017 Apr;47:125-132. doi: 10.1016/j.canep.2017.01.009. Epub 2017 Mar 6.

Profile of cancer in the Eastern Mediterranean region: The need for action.

Author information

Section of Cancer Surveillance, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France. Electronic address:
Section of Cancer Surveillance, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France.
WHO, Regional Office of the Eastern Mediterranean, Cairo, Egypt.
King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Epidemiology and Cancer Registry Department, Kuwait Cancer Control Center, Kuwait.
Department of Community, Environmental and Occupational Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt.
King Hussein Cancer Center, Amman, Jordan.
Division of Hematology and Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, American University of Beirut Medical Center, Beirut, Lebanon.



Many countries in the Eastern Mediterranean region (EMR) are undergoing marked demographic and socioeconomic transitions that are increasing the cancer burden in region. We sought to examine the national cancer incidence and mortality profiles as a support to regional cancer control planning in the EMR.


GLOBOCAN 2012 data were used to estimate cancer incidence and mortality by country, cancer type, sex and age in 22 EMR countries. We calculated age-standardized incidence and mortality rates (per 100,000) using direct method of standardization.


The cancer incidence and mortality rates vary considerably between countries in the EMR. Incidence rates were highest in Lebanon (204 and 193 per 100,000 in males and females, respectively). Mortality rates were highest in Lebanon (119) and Egypt (121) among males and in Somalia (117) among females. The profile of common cancers differs substantially by sex. For females, breast cancer is the most common cancer in all 22 countries, followed by cervical cancer, which ranks high only in the lower-income countries in the region. For males, lung, prostate, and colorectal cancer in combination represent almost 30% of the cancer burden in countries that have attained very high levels of human development.


The most common cancers are largely amenable to preventive strategies by primary and/or secondary prevention, hence a need for effective interventions tackling lifestyle risk factors and infections. The high mortality observed from breast and cervical cancer highlights the need to break the stigmas and improve awareness surrounding these cancers.


Cancer; Eastern Mediterranean region; Incidence; Mortality; Risk factors

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