Cancer is threatening to overwhelm Latin American countries, according to report published in the Lancet Oncology by researchers at the Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Researchers spoke at the Latin American Cooperative Oncology Group (LACOG) 2013 conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil and unveiled the study results from the area, stressing urgent action is needed to reduce tobacco use and obesity and allocate more resources to control the disease.

The study noted that what is alarming is that there are far fewer cases of cancer in the region than in the US or Europe - but the proportion who die is far higher. Around 13 deaths for every 22 cancer cases in the region, compared to around 13 deaths for every 37 cases in the United States and around 13 deaths for every 30 cases in Europe, according to the study.

It estimated that by 2030, 1.7 million cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Latin America and the Caribbean, with more than one million deaths from cancer predicted to occur annually.

"More widespread adoption of lifestyles similar to those in developed countries will lead to a rapidly growing number of patients with cancer, a cost burden for which Latin American countries are not prepared," said Paul Goss, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, who led the research team.

"This burgeoning cancer problem threatens to cause widespread suffering and economic peril to the countries of Latin America. The region is poorly equipped to deal with the alarming rise in cancer incidence and disproportionately high mortality rates compared with other world regions, underscoring the magnitude of the cancer-control problem."

The study analyzed data from regarding cancer incidence and care; Argentina, Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, French Guiana, Guyana, Honduras, Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Paraguay and El Salvador.

"We want to galvanize everybody to take action... Cancer is going to be the number one threat and we believe it is very wise to invest more and distribute the budget and resources equitably across all the populations of a country," lead researcher Paul Goss of Harvard Medical School told a press conference, according to the AFP.