World Cancer Day: Get the Facts – and the Screening

Cancer diagnoses on TV are often followed with “how long do I have doc,” reflecting the perception that the diagnosis is a death sentence.  It is, after all, the second leading killer.

World Cancer Day 2013 arrives with cancer still serious and fatal for far too many, but not as dreadful a diagnosis as it once was – or as portrayed by Hollywood.

We want to mark World Cancer Day with some facts and hopeful news. Changes in lifestyle, such as smoking cessation and reducing sun exposure, early detection through screening and improved treatments have led to a greater incidence of cure instead of certain death with many cancers. Some vaccines are also available now to prevent some types of cancer.

What exactly is cancer? Cancer is a type of disease where abnormal cells divide without control and invade other tissues through the blood and lymph system.

Startling Cancer Statistics

  • While overall cancer death rates have continued to decline during 2000-2009, the death rates associated with some cancer types, including melanoma and cancers of the liver, uterus and pancreas, have increased.
  • In 2009, one million invasive cancer cases were diagnosed among residents of 49 states.
  • It is estimated that 1,638,910 men and women will be diagnosed with cancer and 577,190 men and women will die of cancer of all types in 2012.
  • There are more than 100 types of cancer.
  • From 2005-2009, the median age for cancer diagnosis for all types was 66 years and the median age for death from cancer for all types was 72 years.
  • The three most common cancers of men: 1) prostate, 2) lung and 3) colorectal.
  • The three most common cancers of women: 1) breast, 2) lung and 3) colorectal.
  • 41.24% of men and women born today will be diagnosed with cancer of all types at some time during their lifetime.

Cancer News of Interest

  1. Drugs are being used in the treatment of different types of cancer than those for which originally intended and showing progress in treatment; for example, a breast cancer drug is being used to treat lung cancer with success.
  2. New test for prostate cancer is 97% more accurate than the current PSA testing.
  3. Research into how to detect cancer during follow-up using blood tests instead of PET scans for more effective, early detection of recurrence.
  4. New technology being used to locate protein pathway inhibitors to help scientists better target therapies.
  5. Research underway targeting the spread of cancer for the purpose of creating better treatments.
  6. Specially designated cancer research facilities search for cures every day.

Cancer survival rates denote the percentage of people who survive a certain type of cancer for a specific amount of time, usually described in a five year period. The number of cancer survivors continues to grow and, as of January 1, 2012, now totals an estimated 13.7 million.

World Cancer Day reminds us it is important to continue to support causes in your area that raise funds to fight cancer as well as increase overall awareness of the disease. One of the best ways to mark the day is to get your cancer screening tests as recommended to have the best chance of finding any cancer in your senior loved ones as early as possible for the best chance treatment can lead your senior to be a survivor too!