Non-preventable cases of breast, prostate, lung, and colorectal cancer in 2050 in an elimination scenario of modifiable risk factors

Sci Rep. 2024 Apr 13;14(1):8577. doi: 10.1038/s41598-024-59314-x.


Most Western countries have increasing number of new cancer cases per year. Cancer incidence is primarily influenced by basically avoidable risk factors and an aging population. Through hypothetical elimination scenarios of multiple major risk factors for cancer, we estimated the number of new cancer cases that are non-preventable in 2050. We compare numbers of new postmenopausal breast, prostate, lung, and colorectal cancer cases in 2021 to projected numbers of new cases in 2050 under prevention scenarios regarding smoking, overweight and obesity, and alcohol consumption: no intervention, 50%, and 100% instant reduction. Cancer incidence data were derived from NORDCAN, and risk factor prevalence data from the Danish National Health Survey. Cancer projections were calculated with the Prevent program. Hypothetical 100% instant elimination of major risk factors for cancer in Denmark in 2022 will result in unchanged numbers of new breast and colorectal cancers in 2050. The number of new prostate cancers will increase by 25% compared to 2021. Unchanged risk factor levels will result in noticeable increase in cancer burden. Increase in life expectancy and age will entail an increase in cancer incidence, despite maximum effect of preventive actions in the population. Our results are important when planning future health care.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Lung
  • Male
  • Prostate
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / prevention & control
  • Risk Factors