New Zealand's dismal cancer statistics have been highlighted in a global index, putting the country proportionally second worst for new cases.

A new study showed New Zealand's rate of new cancer cases per 100,000 people - age-adjusted and as at 2016 - stood at 542.8.

That was behind only Australia (at 743.8) and worse than the US (532.9), the Netherlands (477.3) and Luxembourg (455.4).

The study was published as part of the ongoing Global Burden of Disease study - the most comprehensive analysis of cancer-related health outcomes and patterns ever conducted.

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It also showed how New Zealand also stood out for having the world's worst rate of deaths from malignant skin melanoma, along with the worst rate of new cases of leukemia.

Our rates of the former cancer was 6.6 per 100,000 people - around six times the global average - while rates of the latter were 20.3 per 100,000 people, or three times the global average.

Cancer remained New Zealand's number one killer, with more than 23,000 people diagnosed every year.

Figures released by the Ministry of Health last month showed more than 9500 people died from cancer each year, representing 31 per cent of all deaths recorded in New Zealand.

The number of people affected by cancer was also expected to increase by 50 per cent by 2035.

Responding to that report, Cancer Society medical director Dr Chris Jackson called for increased government investment to support for people with cancer.

Meanwhile, the new study, just published in the journal JAMA Oncology, found lifestyle-related cancers, such as lung, colorectal and skin cancers, had increased worldwide over the past decade.

"While the increase in lung, colorectal and skin cancers over the past decade is concerning, the prevention potential is substantial," said Dr Christina Fitzmaurice of the University of Washington, which led the study.

"Vital prevention efforts such as tobacco control, dietary interventions and broader health promotion campaigns need to be scaled up in response to this rise in lifestyle-related cancers."

The wider study involved researchers reviewing 29 cancer groups, including lung, breast, prostate, skin, colorectal, pancreatic, stomach and liver cancers, as well as leukemia and other cancer groups.

While lifestyle-related cancers saw a universal increase from 2006 to 2016, several cancers from infectious causes – including cervical and stomach cancers – decreased over the same time period.

In 2016, there were 17.2 million cancer cases worldwide, an increase of 28 per cent over the past decade, and there were 8.9 million cancer deaths the same year.

While cancer death rates decreased in a majority of countries from 2006 to 2016, incidence rates conversely increased.

Breast cancer - which killed 600 women in New Zealand every year - was the leading cause of cancer death in women globally.

Lung cancer was the leading cause of cancer death in men; it was also the leading cause of cancer mortality globally, accounting for nearly 20 per cent of all cancer deaths in 2016.

Cancer: the global picture

NEW CANCER CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE (AGE-ADJUSTED) IN 2016

Highest rates

Australia (743.8)
New Zealand (542.8)
United States (532.9)
Netherlands (477.3)
Luxembourg (455.4)
Iceland (455.0)
Norway (446.1)
United Kingdom (438.6)
Ireland (429.7)
Denmark (421.7)

Lowest rates

Syria (85.0)
Bhutan (86.0)
Algeria (86.7)
Nepal (90.7)
Oman (94.9)
Maldives (101.3)
Sri Lanka (101.6)
Niger (102.3)
Timor-Leste (105.9)
India (106.6)

NEW CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE (AGE-ADJUSTED), 2016
"Worst" and "best" countries and global

Tracheal, bronchus and lung cancer: North Korea (56.9), Kenya (4.2), global (30.2)
Colon and rectum cancer: Netherlands (57.5), The Gambia (4.3), global (25.9)
Breast cancer: Luxembourg (61.8), Niger (5.8), global (24.1)
Non-melanoma skin cancer: Australia (300.4), Bangladesh (0.7), global (23.2)
Prostate cancer: Dominica (113.1), North Korea (2.4), global (22.1)
Stomach cancer: South Korea (44.5), Namibia (2.7), global (17.3)
Liver cancer: Mongolia (108.4), Morocco (1.9), global (14.6)
Other neoplasms: Malawi (39.6), Syria (2.6), global (10.9)
Cervical cancer: Somalia (34.0), Qatar (1.1), global (7.0)
Leukemia: New Zealand (20.3), Zambia (2.0), global (6.8)
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: Canada (21.2), Kyrgyzstan (1.5), global (6.7)
Bladder cancer: Lebanon (31.1), Nigeria (1.2), global (6.7)
Esophageal cancer: Malawi (25.2), Syria (0.7), global (6.6)
Pancreatic cancer: Czech Republic (12.5), India (2.6), global (6.4)
Uterine cancer: Latvia (23.1), Bangladesh (0.8), global (6.0)
Lip and oral cavity cancer: Pakistan (22.1), Sao Tome and Principe (1.0), global (5.5)
Kidney cancer: Latvia (20.5), Nepal (1.0), global (5.0)
Brain and nervous system cancer: Iceland (20.8), Namibia (1.4), global (4.6)
Malignant skin melanoma: Australia (55.6), Nepal (0.2), global (4.1)
Ovarian cancer: Estonia (9.3), Niger (1.2), global (3.6)
Thyroid cancer: Iceland (18.7), Ghana (0.2), global (3.3)
Gallbladder and biliary tract cancer: Chile (11.5), Uzbekistan (0.6), global (2.8)
Larynx cancer: Cuba (8.8), The Gambia (0.6), global (2.7)
Other pharynx cancer: Hungary (7.3), Palestine (0.2), global (2.4)
Multiple myeloma: Barbados (6.3), Tajikistan (0.4), global (2.1)
Nasopharynx cancer: Malaysia (5.1), Mali (0.1), global (1.3)
Hodgkin lymphoma: Greece (5.3), Syria (0.1), global (1.0)
Testicular cancer: Chile (6.4), Mozambique (0.04), global (0.9)
Mesothelioma: United Kingdom (2.9), Palestine (0.1), global (0.5)

DEATHS PER 100,000 PEOPLE (AGE-ADJUSTED) IN 2016
"Worst" and "best" countries and global

Tracheal, bronchus and lung cancer: North Korea (61.7), Egypt (4.8), global (25.8)
Colon and rectum cancer: Hungary (31.3), Sri Lanka (5.0), global (12.8)
Stomach cancer: Mongolia (44.0), Maldives (3.2), global (12.6)
Liver cancer: Mongolia (114.7), Morocco (2.0), global (12.1)
Breast cancer: Tonga (24.7), Oman (4.0), global (7.9)
Other neoplasms: Malawi (37.6), Syria (2.6), global (6.4)
Esophageal cancer: Malawi (32.4), Syria (0.8), global (6.2)
Pancreatic cancer: Uruguay (12.8), Bangladesh (2.5), global (6.2)
Prostate cancer: Dominica (54.9), North Korea (1.9), global (6.1)
Leukemia: Syria (15.3), Bangladesh (1.9), global (4.6)
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: Grenada (11.0), Kyrgyzstan (1.4), global (3.6)
Cervical cancer: Zimbabwe (28.7), Syria (0.6), global (3.5)
Brain and nervous system cancer: Palestine (8.3), Japan (1.2), global (3.2)
Bladder cancer: Malawi (11.8), Albania (0.9), global (2.9)
Lip oral cavity cancer: Kiribati (14.6), Syria (0.6), global (2.6)
Gallbladder and biliary tract cancer: Chile (11.3), Uzbekistan (0.6), global (2.5)
Ovarian cancer: Lithuania (5.9), United Arab Emirates (0.9), global (2.4)
Kidney cancer: Czech Republic (7.1), Bangladesh (0.5), global (2.0)
Other pharynx cancer: India (6.1), Syria (0.2), global (1.7)
Larynx cancer: Cuba (5.3), Japan (0.4), global (1.6)
Multiple myeloma: Dominica (5.9), Tajikistan (0.4), global (1.5)
Uterine cancer: Grenada (5.4), Maldives (0.5), global (1.3)
Malignant skin melanoma: New Zealand (6.6), Bangladesh (0.2), global (0.9)
Nasopharynx cancer: Malaysia (3.7), Chile (0.1), global (0.9)
Non-melanoma skin cancer: Zimbabwe (4.5), Bangladesh (0.2) global (0.8)
Thyroid cancer: Zimbabwe (2.3), Syria (0.2), global (0.6)
Mesothelioma: United Kingdom (2.6), Palestine (0.1), global (0.5)
Hodgkin lymphoma: Afghanistan (2.2), Japan (0.1), global (0.4)
Testicular cancer: Kiribati (1.0), Maldives (0.02), global (0.1)

CANCER DEATHS PER 100,000 PEOPLE (AGE-ADJUSTED) IN 2016
Highest rates

Mongolia (272.1)
Zimbabwe (245.8)
Dominica (203.1)
Hungary (202.7)
Grenada (201.0)
Uruguay (190.6)
Tonga (189.7)
North Korea (188.7)
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (183.1)
Croatia (180.2)

Lowest rates

Syria (67.4)
Algeria (67.5)
Oman (69.2)
Maldives (72.0)
Sri Lanka (74.7)
Bhutan (78.6)
Uzbekistan (80.6)
Nicaragua (80.9)
Morocco (81.0)