The recent passing of Iranian pop singer Morteza Pashaei and young actor, Majid Bahrami has focused attention on the growing number of deaths caused by cancer in the country. Pashaei was afflicted with stomach cancer and Bahrami had blood cancer.

Half a million people in Iran suffer from cancer; 90,000 new cancer cases are diagnosed each year, and 30,000 die from cancer annually.

Iranian media report that from 1989 to 2009, cancer cases in the country have increased six fold, and according to some forecasts, within 20 years the currents rates will be doubled.

The most common cancer in men remains prostate cancer and in women, breast cancer; however, the ministry of health adds that the deadliest remain stomach, lung and liver cancer.

Cancer treatment is often not covered by health insurances in Iran and is hence unaffordable for many families. The minister of health, however, has announced plans to reduce cancer treatment costs.

In recent years gasoline produced by petrochemical facilities to overcome shortages due to international sanctions have been found to cause cancer. In addition, interference waves used by the government to block satellite programming from abroad have also been linked to cancer.