Cancer The Leading Cause Of Death: Stats, Radiation Effects, Factors and Treatment

Cancer has overtaken heart disease to become the leading cause of death among high-income countries (HIC) according to a study published in The Lancet. In parallel to this claim, it was also found that individuals in low to middle income countries (LMIC) suffer more predominantly from cardiac conditions.Cancer causing death is increasing day by day.

STATS RELEATED TO CANCER:

  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, and is responsible for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018.Cancer causing death is about 1 in every 6 globally.
  • Approximately 70% of deaths from cancer occur in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Around one third of deaths from cancer are due to the 5 leading behavioral and dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use.
  • Tobacco use is the most important risk factor for cancer and is responsible for approximately 22% of cancer deaths (2).
  • Cancer causing infections, such as hepatitis and human papilloma virus (HPV), are responsible for up to 25% of cancer cases in low- and middle-income countries (3).
  • Late-stage presentation and inaccessible diagnosis and treatment are common. In 2017, only 26% of low-income countries reported having pathology services generally available in the public sector. More than 90% of high-income countries reported treatment services are available compared to less than 30% of low-income countries.
  • The economic impact of cancer is significant and is increasing. The total annual economic cost of cancer in 2010 was estimated at approximately US$ 1.16 trillion (4).
  • Only 1 in 5 low- and middle-income countries have the necessary data to drive cancer policy (5).

The problem:

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018. The most common cancers are:
  • Lung (2.09 million cases)
  • Breast (2.09 million cases)
  • Colorectal (1.80 million cases)
  • Prostate (1.28 million cases)
  • Skin cancer (non-melanoma) (1.04 million cases)
  • Stomach (1.03 million cases)

The most common causes of cancer death are cancers of:

  • Lung (1.76 million deaths)
  • Colorectal (862 000 deaths)
  • Stomach (783 000 deaths)
  • Liver (782 000 deaths)
  • Breast (627 000 deaths)

causes-of-cancer

What Causes Cancer:

Cancer is caused by accumulated damage to genes. Such changes may be due to chance or to exposure to a cancer causing substance.

The substances that cause cancer are called carcinogens. A carcinogen may be a chemical substance, such as certain molecules in tobacco smoke. The cause of cancer may be environmental agents, viral or genetic factors.

We should bear in mind, though, that in the majority of cancer cases we cannot attribute the disease to a single cause.

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Lifestyle-related factors that cause cancer include:

  • tobacco
  • alcohol
  • UV radiation in sunlight
  • some food-related factors, such as nitrites and poly aromatic hydrocarbons generated by barbecuing food).

Cancer causing factors related to work and living environments include:

  • asbestos fibres
  • tar and pitch
  • polynuclear hydrocarbons (e.g. benzopyrene)
  • Some metal compounds
  • Some plastic chemicals (e.g. Vinyl chloride)

Bacteria and viruses can cause cancer:

  • Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori, which causes gastritis)
  • HBV, HCV (hepatitis viruses that cause hepatitis)
  • HPV (human papilloma virus, papilloma virus, which causes changes eg. Cervical cells)
  • EBV (Epstein-Barr virus, the herpes virus that causes inflammation of the throat lymphoid)

Radiation can cause cancer causing death:

  • ionising radiation (e.g. X-ray radiation, soil radon)
  • non-ionised radiation (the sun’s ultraviolet radiation)

Some drugs may increase the risk of cancer:

  • certain antineoplastic agents
  • certain hormones
  • medicines that cause immune deficiency

treatment of cancer

Treatments Of Cancer :

Innovative research has fueled the development of new medications and treatment technologies.

Doctors usually prescribe treatments based on the type of cancer, its stage at diagnosis, and the person’s overall health.

  • Chemotherapy aims to kill cancerous cells with medications that target rapidly dividing cells. The drugs can also help shrink tumors, but the side effects can be severe.
  • Hormone therapy involves taking medications that change how certain hormones work or interfere with the body’s ability to produce them. When hormones play a significant role, as with prostate and breast cancers, this is a common approach.
  • Immunotherapy uses medications and other treatments to boost the immune system and encourage it to fight cancerous cells. Two examples of these treatments are checkpoint inhibitors and adoptive cell transfer.
  • Precision medicine, or personalized medicine, is a newer, developing approach. It involves using genetic testing to determine the best treatments for a person’s particular presentation of cancer. Researchers have yet to show that it can effectively treat all types of cancer, however.
  • Radiation therapy uses high-dose radiation to kill cancerous cells. Also, a doctor may recommend using radiation to shrink a tumor before surgery or reduce tumor-related symptoms.
  • Stem cell transplant can be especially beneficial for people with blood-related cancers, such as leukemia or lymphoma. It involves removing cells, such as red or white blood cells, that chemotherapy or radiation has destroyed. Lab technicians then strengthen the cells and put them back into the body.
  • Surgery is often a part of a treatment plan when a person has a cancerous tumor. Also, a surgeon may remove lymph nodes to reduce or prevent the disease’s spread.
  • Targeted therapies perform functions within cancerous cells to prevent them from multiplying. They can also boost the immune system. Two examples of these therapies are small-molecule drugs and monoclonal antibodies.

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