Epidemiology and Prevention

  • Anne E. MurphyEmail author
Part of the Principles of Specialty Nursing book series (PSN)


Incidence (see final page for Glossary) and mortality due to cancer have increased gradually since the nineteenth century and represent an enormous burden in the world. As already mentioned, the risk of cancer increases with age, and it has been observed also that the incidence of cancer and mortality due to the disease increases because of the population growth (National Cancer Institute. Cancer risk factors and protective factors. (Accessed May 1 2018)). This situation is observed of course in the developed countries but also in the developing part of the world since nearly 44% of cancer cases and 53% of cancer deaths occur in countries at a low or medium level of the Human Development Index (International Agency for Research on Cancer and Cancer Research UK. World Cancer Factsheet. Cancer Research UK, London, 2014).


Epidemiology Cancer statistics Early detection Cancer screening Risk factors 



Age-standardized rate (ASR)

Age-standardized rate is the rate that a population would have if it had a standard age structure [2]. It is necessary to use standardization when comparing several populations with differences in regard to age since age is an important risk factor of developing a cancer.

Average risk

Average risk for colon cancer is a man or a woman aged from 50 years and with no previous history of adenoma or colon cancer, no previous inflammatory disease of the colon and no family history (one parent from the 1st degree or two parents from the 2nd degree).

Human development index (HDI)

Human development index is a composite index of three dimensions of human development: (i) life expectancy (based on life expectancy at birth); (ii) educational attainment (based on a combination of adult literacy rate and primary to tertiary education enrolment rates) and (iii) income (based on GDP per capita adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP US$)). Countries were grouped into four levels of HDI according to the United Nations Development Programme estimates for 2012: very high HDI, high HDI, medium HDI and low HDI.


Incidence is the number of new cases in a specified population during a given period and is generally expressed for a population of 100,000 persons yearly.


Morbidity refers to having a disease or [32] a symptom of disease or to the amount of disease within a population. Morbidity also refers to medical problems caused by a treatment.


Mortality is the number of persons who died from the disease in a given period in a specified population and is given as an absolute number of deaths per year or as a rate standardized per 100,000.


Prevalence of a specific cancer is the number of individuals who have been diagnosed with that type of cancer in a defined population during a fixed time and who are still living at the end of this given year. It is usually given as a number and a percentage of 100,000 persons.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University Hospital of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

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