Experts say one reason is because more people are smoking cigarettes in developing countries.
This is the VOA Special English Development Report.
Health experts predict that soon, more people will die from cancer than from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. They expect that by 2010, cancer will become the world's leading cause of death.
Heart disease is the current leading killer. A World Health Organization report made the predictions in December.
Experts say one reason more people are dying from cancer is because more people are smoking cigarettes in developing countries. 40 percent of the world's smokers are believed to live in China and India alone. Other things including high fat diets and reduced physical activity are also believed to be pushing the numbers upward.
Rates of breast cancer in Japan, Singapore and South Korea are now 3 times what they were 40 years ago.
The W.H.O. report estimates that 12 million people will be found to have some form of cancer this year. It predicts that more than 7 million people will die early as a result of cancer. And more than 5 million of the new cancer cases will be in developing countries.
The number of cancer cases and deaths from cancer are expected to increase one percent each year. Experts are predicting the largest increases will be in China, Russia, and India.
Without new treatments, the W.H.O. says, the number of new cancer patients could reach 27 million a year by 2030. The number of deaths could reach 17 million a year.
A separate report in December said the number of men and women dying of cancer in the United States had dropped for the first time on record. The report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute said the drop was mainly the result of fewer cases of lung, prostate and colorectal cancer in men. In women, it resulted from fewer cases of breast and colorectal cancer.
The American Cancer Society says governments can do things to help prevent the increase in cancer cases and deaths. One idea is to provide poor and developing nations with vaccines that help to prevent some cancer-causing infections. One example of a cancer-causing infection is human papillomavirus. This virus can cause cervical cancer in women.
Another suggestion is more support for tobacco-control programs. And the cancer society says health officials and governments should invest more in cancer research and early detection.
And that's the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Brianna Blake. I'm Steve Ember.