Ireland could experience a 72% rise in the numbers of cancer cases by 2030, according to predictions by the World Health Organisation.

The figures have been published by the World Cancer Research Fund, to coincide with World Cancer Day today.

The WHO estimates Ireland will have 33,416 new cases of cancer in 2030, which is the biggest predicted rise out of the 27 EU member states.

Cyprus comes second with a predicted rise of 55%, followed by Luxembourg at 53% and Malta at 49%.

World Cancer Research Fund, which published the figures, said Ireland's ageing population, and the projected growth in the total population here are factors in the prediction.

The figures do not take into account how well the disease is recorded, the use of screening, and changes in lifestyle habits.

The charity said higher income countries tend to have higher levels of obesity and alcohol consumption and lower levels of physical activity - all risk factors for developing cancer.

The Irish Cancer Society has said it supports and agrees with the WHO figures.

Its Chief Executive John McCormack said his organisation had been saying for a long time that Ireland was facing an epidemic of cancer numbers.

He said the society predicted that there would probably be a 100% increase in cancer cases between now and 2030.

He said the WHO figures were very worrying, but that some heart could be taken from the fact that Ireland has a very good cancer control programme.

Today is World Cancer day, held every year to promote awareness and prevention of the disease.