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Eleven million deaths from cancer occur worldwide, six million of them in low and middle-income countries. The mix of cancers that occurs varies around the world, driven largely by environment, geography, and standard of living. Cancer is also regarded differently in different settings: as a preventable and often curable disease in high-income countries; but as a painful death sentence in many developing countries.

The rise in cigarette smoking has made lung cancer the most common cancer, and cause of death from cancer in low and middle income countries, just as it is in high-income countries in men and overall. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in both low and high-income countries. Among men in LMCs, cancers of the stomach and liver are next most common and among women, cancers of the cervix and stomach.