The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) which is part of the World Health Organisation (WHO) released a report which said global rates of cancer could rise 50% to 15 million new cases by the year 2020.
One third of cases can be cured and one third prevented through lifestyle changes and by curbing infections. For the remaining third, quality of life can be good with adequate pain management.
Health experts predict that the biggest reduction in cancer deaths in the coming decades will be due to reductions in smoking. An estimated 100 million people died of tobacco-related diseases in the 20th century. Compared to non-smokers, smokers have a 20 to 30 times greater risk of developing lung cancer and are also at an increased risk for bladder, renal, stomach, liver, kidney and oral cancers.
Dietary changes, increasing exercise and preventing infections such as Hepatitis B and C will also make a difference. Vaccination has been shown to prevent stomach cancer in high-incidence countries and researchers hope to have a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer in 3 to 5 years. Differential pricing for expensive cancer drugs would also mean that chemotherapy and palliative drugs would be able to help the poor too, rather than only the rich being able to afford them.
(Source: Reuters Health)