Declining Cancer Rates: How Far Humanity Has Come to Curbing the Disease

Young Women are Not Exempt from Breast Cancer

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Cancer is one of the most feared diseases in this world of advanced medicine. Up to this very day, there is no known cure for cancer. There are numerous ways by which cancer can be treated today: a variety of medication, chemotherapy, and a wide variety of nontraditional medicine.

Cancer as the world sees it

Cancer has one of the biggest numbers of clinical trials available all over the world. Cancer research is also one of the most highly-funded medical research fields in the world. It is a disease that is so intimidating to the human population that a common expression equating a great, humanity-saving feat is to “find the cure for cancer.” All of this research and attention is entirely dedicated to the study of this disease, how it manifests, and most importantly, how it can be survived.

Without a cure, cancer continues to stand as a deadly disease that so many people dread to have in their lives. Even when it comes to family histories and sperm donors, prospective parents have frantically checked for any history of predisposition of the disease. Even after the tedious task of treatment through radiation and chemotherapy, and financial suffering that also follows along with it, cancer survivors are never completely in the clear. They will forever be checking and rechecking for any chance of the resurgence of this disease that commonly claims so many lives.

The downward trend

All this focus and awareness about cancer, along with all the subsequent funding for studies, research, and clinical trials, have bolstered the human race’s progress against this disease in a way that so many people might not immediately realize.

Today, cancer is far less likely to be a death sentence than it has ever had before.

Advancements in medicine have seen to it. Public awareness, through warnings to get regular checks or to have suspicious symptoms looked over, have increased the likelihood that an early test could potentially diagnose cancer in its early, more treatable stages. Better accessibility to healthcare had also improved the overall trend against cancer.

The total cancer deaths from the United States alone have dropped a full 25 percent from 1991. Between that year to 2014, that means a total of 2.1 million people had not died of cancer, as opposed to rates remaining at the levels it had previously been in 1991.

What are the causes of this trend?

Apart from the reasons stated above, researchers have given the credit to this amazing trend by the fact that there have also been similar reductions in smoking. Smoking has accounted for at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths. Advances in early detection and treatment in the field of science have further bolstered the rest of that percentage. The American Cancer Society feels that this is a very telling sign that the world has made huge leaps in terms of reducing the overall death toll that cancer has inflicted upon the human race.

This type of success also further encourages even more research, clinical trials, and advances in the field of medicine. Now that the medical world has proven that there really is true progress against cancer, more and more support will allow them to bring their research and developments to even greater heights. The American Cancer Society adds that their focus will now be to further improve early detection technologies and treatment, as well as further encouraging healthy behavior all over the nation.

The rate of decline

To further illustrate this point, there were 215 deaths per 1,000 people reported in 1991. This number dropped to 161 deaths per 1,000 people as recently as 2014. This shows a slow but steady decline in the 20 years between that time, with approximately 1.5 percent of reduction happening each year.

These declines were seen in various types of cancers overall. Some of the world’s deadliest and most widespread cancers — lung, breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer — have all seen this drop in the death toll.

By the numbers

The numbers were very telling, particularly as to their reach and who were affected by them. Lung cancer in women had gone down by 17 percent in 2002 to 2014. In men, this type had decreased 43 percent between 1990 and 2014. Colorectal cancer death rates have also decreased in both sexes by 51 percent between the years 1976 to 2014. The gender disparity had to do with different exposures and cancer risk factors that contribute overall to the number.

While the gender issue isn’t completely understood yet by doctors, many suggest that it’s because men are far more likely to smoke and drink excessively as compared to women, and these two acts are responsible for a considerable number of cancer factors. Height, weight and even hormone differences might also make men more susceptible, but there have not yet been any true conclusions on that end.

These declines held true even among races. As black men were more likely to smoke in their youth during the early 1970s and 1980s they were more at risk. Black men were almost 50 percent more susceptible to die due to cancer causes than white men, but that difference has changed dramatically, dropping up to 21 percent less.

Children are another disparity. Both white and black people between 1-19 years old have experienced a great decline in cancer death. Leukemia, which is traditionally defined as a malignant progressive disease, is actually a group of different cancers within the blood cells. This disease went from being the most common cancer-caused deaths in children and young people ages 1-19, to only second best after all the progress that had been made in the past two decades. Brain cancer now takes the highest spot, accounting for only 3 out of 10 cancer deaths in 2014.

Cancer mortality in children has been a source of great interest in particular. The research that went into the noticeable decrease in cancer mortality in children and adolescents were three decades worth of medical advancement, particularly in the field of cancer treatment. Cancer, once seen as the second-biggest killer in the United States, is being battered back on the mortality rates by the major advances in treatment as according to the CDC.

The advancements in medical science have given people more hope that there is life even after cancer. With more and more funding being funneled all over the world towards cancer research, it is only a matter of time before these numbers shrink even further.