More must be done to address the “alarming” rise in cancer cases, experts have said.

The warning comes as the latest figures show that the number of cases worldwide is expected to rise by 75 per cent in just 20 years.

In 2012 there were 14.1 million new cases of cancer around the globe but experts from the World Health Organisation’s cancer body, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, have predicted that over the next two decades the number of new cases each year will rise to 25 million.

Over the same period the number of deaths caused by cancer is predicted to rise from 8.2 million a year to 13 million annually.

The IARC’s latest World Cancer Report states that “we cannot treat our way out of the cancer problem”.

More must be done to prevent cases altogether or to detect cases early on, the authors said.

They warned that even the richest countries will struggle to keep up with surging costs of treating cancer.

“The rising burden of cancer and other non-communicable diseases places and enormous strains on the healthcare systems of developing countries,” the authors wrote.

“Coupled with ageing populations and the spiralling costs of cancer treatment, increasing demands are placed on the healthcare budgets of even the wealthiest nations.

“As a result prevention is central to reducing or reversing the rise in cancer burden.”

Christopher Wild, director of the agency and co-editor of the report, said: “Despite exciting advances, this report shows that we cannot treat our way out of the cancer problem.

“More commitment to prevention and early detection is desperately needed in order to complement improved treatments and address the alarming rise in cancer burden globally.

“The rise of cancer worldwide is a major obstacle to human development and wellbeing. These new figures and projections send a strong signal that immediate action is needed to confront this human disaster which touches every community worldwide, without exception.”

The report stated that lung cancer accounted for the highest proportion of cases, with 1.8 million people being diagnosed with the disease in 2012. Breast cancer was the second most common cancer diagnosed followed by large bowel cancer.

The report authors said that tobacco legislation has been “critical” in reducing consumption through taxes, advertising restrictions, and other regulation.

They called for discussion on ways forward, which could include similar legislation on alcohol and sugary drinks.