Cancer is a condition in which doctors fight everyday to find more answers, but it keeps taking millions of lives every year. We can look at the fact that nowadays there are more than 100 different types of cancer. This is why people are concerned about a global cancer epidemic that is constantly rising and taking the lives of 8.2 million people every year. If no change is made, the number is estimated to increase to 13.2 million by 2030. Just alone in the U.S., more than 1,596,670 persons were diagnosed with cancer in 2011, adding up to roughly 4,374 patients every day. This means that 3 people are diagnosed every minute and that one in two men and one in three women will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime.
Even though it is one of the most; if not the most, widespread disease; there are still many things we don't know about this condition and that we could be doing to prevent it. This is why this year, the World Cancer Day is focusing on 4 main areas of action:
- Choosing healthy lifestyles
- Delivering early detection
- Achieving treatment for all
- Maximizing quality of life
Being well informed and taking action
A lot of people think cancer is hereditary. And they are not totally wrong, but they are not totally right either. The cancer cells take a lot of time to develop, but also a lot of effort (if we can call it like that). By effort we mean not having the healthy habits or having a careless lifestyle. In the U.S., roughly 40% of all cancers are linked to tobacco, alcohol, diet, being overweight, inactivity, infection, radiation, occupation, post-menopausal hormones or breastfeeding for less than 6 months. Moreover, cigarette smoking is the single most important cause of preventable deaths and accounts for about 30% of all cancer deaths in the United States (including over 80% of lung cancers).
Another false idea about cancer is that we do not need to get tested unless we fell sick. That is totally wrong. In different types of cancer, such as Breast and Prostate Cancer, people are now highly encouraged to get tested regularly in order to achieve early detection and to be able to better fight the condition.
Due to medical advancements, 1 out of 2 cancers are being vanquished in the world, unlike 20 years ago where only 1 out of 3 cases won the battle. This is because of early detection and all the medical advancements, even though sometimes we feel research is getting nowhere. The survival rates in the U.S. have also doubled, it is estimated that 4 out of 10 cancer cases can be prevented, and that 50% of diagnosed people are able to live 5 years after being diagnosed; which proves that awareness and early detection are effective in the fight against cancer.
The idea is to focus on a positive and proactive approach in the fight against cancer and to be informed. Awareness has to be raised to teach people that there is something to be done from both an individual level, to the community and even governmental level.