The Burden of Cancer in Member Countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)


This paper presents the most recent data on cancer rates and the burden of cancer in the ASEAN region. Epidemiological data were sourced from GLOBOCAN 2008 and disability adjusted life years (DALYs) lost were estimated using the standard methodology developed within the World Health Organization’s Global Burden of Disease study. Overall, it was estimated there were over 700,000 new cases of cancer and 500,000 cancer deaths in ASEAN in the year 2008, leading to approximately 7.5 million DALYs lost in one year. The most commonly diagnosed cancers were lung (98,143), breast (86,842) and liver cancers (74,777). The most common causes of cancer death were lung cancer (85,772), liver cancer (69,115) and colorectal cancer (44,280). The burden of cancer in terms of DALYs lost was highest in Laos, Viet Nam and Myanmar and lowest in Brunei, Singapore and the Philippines. Significant differences in the patterns of cancer from country to country were observed. Another key finding was the major impact played by population age distribution on cancer incidence and mortality. Cancer rates in ASEAN are expected to increase with ageing of populations and changes in lifestyles associated with economic development. Therefore, ASEAN member countries are strongly encouraged to put in place cancer-control health care policies, focussed on strengthening the health systems to cope with projected increases in cancer prevention, treatment and management needs.