Illustrated By Ly Ngo.
Do you know someone who's had cancer? The disease is undoubtedly a serious problem in this country — it accounts for one in four deaths in America. Over 1.7 million people will be diagnosed with some sort of cancer in 2014, and 585,000 are expected to die from the disease. And, while scientific advances have helped save millions of lives, the future of cancer is looking bleaker than ever.
A new report from the World Health Organization predicts a worldwide "human disaster" as the number of new cancer cases soars from 14 million to 24 million by 2035. Put another way, one in five men and one in six women around the world will get cancer by age 75. And, the organization projects that one in eight men and one in 12 women will die from some form of it.
Health experts are attributing the jump in cancer numbers to rising population-growth rates and longer lifespans, particularly in developing countries. While cancer has long been more common in the West, earning it a reputation as a "rich man's disease," changing demographics in the developing world will shift the lion's share of cancer cases to countries whose economies and healthcare systems will be hard-pressed to accommodate them. The WHO pointed out that cancer costs governments worldwide $1.16 trillion every year. This number will presumably balloon with the number of cases, severely hampering economies that are already struggling.
Obviously, experts say that waiting to treat new cancer cases as they arise will make it almost impossible to effectively tackle the problem. The report points out that roughly 50% of cancers are preventable — particularly many cases of lung cancer, which remains the world's most common cancer diagnosis and among the most deadly forms of the disease. Other forms of cancer can be preempted by addressing lifestyle factors that have long been linked to cancer — from smoking and drinking to diet and exercise. Vaccines and screenings are also cited as effective in cutting down on new cases of cervical, liver, and other cancers. One thing's for sure, though: Cancer is no longer something that happens to other people. (BBC)