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WORLD HEALTH STATISTICS QUARTERLY. RAPPORT TRIMESTRIEL DE STATISTIQUES SANITAIRES MONDIALES. 1987; 40(3):267-78.The primary cause of death in women in the world is cancer. In most developing countries cancer of the cervix is the most prevalent cancer. Breast cancer has this distinction in Latin America and the developed countries of North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. It is also the most prevalent cancer worldwide. The most common cancer in Japan and the Soviet Union is stomach cancer. Effective early detection programs can reduce both breast and cervical cancer mortality and also the degree and duration of treatment required. In Iceland, cervical cancer mortality declined 60% between the periods of 1959-1970 and 1975-1978. Programs consist of mammography, physician breast and self examination, and Pap smear. The sophisticated early detection equipment and techniques are expensive and largely located in urban areas, however, and not accessible to urban poor women and rural women, especially in developing countries. Tobacco smoking attributes to 80-90% of all lung cancer deaths worldwide and 30% of all cancer deaths. Passive smoking increases the risk of lung cancer to 25-35% in nonsmokers who breathe in tobacco smoke. Since smoking rates of women are skyrocketing, health specialists fear that lung cancer will replace cervical and breast cancers as the most common cancer in women worldwide in 20-30 years. Tobacco use also contributes to the high incidence of oral cancer in Southern and South Eastern Asia. For example, in India, incidence of oral cancer in women is 3-7 times higher than in developed countries with the smoking and chewing of tobacco in betel quid contributing. Techniques already exist to prevent 1/3 of all cancers. If cases can be discovered early enough and adequate treatment applied, another 1/3 of the cases can be cured. In those cases where the cancer cannot be cured, drugs can relieve 80-90% of the pain.