Few things strike fear in the hearts of people like cancer. It’s a frightening disease, one in which the body is essentially destroying itself. The thought of a cancer diagnosis – for ourselves or our loved ones – is an awful prospect that most people prefer to pretend isn’t possible.
Unfortunately, cancer exists whether we like it or not. Sticking our heads in the sand doesn’t make it go away. What’s more, cancer rates are rising around the world; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projects a 49% increase in cancer cases in the United States by 2050.
Many hallmarks of modern life are blamed for the rising rate of cancer. They include diets overloaded with processed foods, widespread tobacco use, increased alcohol consumption, and exposure to pollution. But the central reason why cancer is on the rise has to do with life expectancy. People are living longer, and the longer you live, the more likely you’ll be diagnosed with cancer.
With that said, many common cancers are deemed preventable to an extent. With this in mind, let’s take a look at six types of cancer on the rise around the world:
Cancers of the colon and rectum are becoming increasingly common, especially in places where people eat excessive amounts of red meat and processed foods. What’s more, people are getting diagnosed with colorectal cancers at ages once deemed low risk for cancer. If caught early, colorectal cancer has a five-year survival rate of 90%. But only 40% of colorectal cancers are detected at the early stages of growth. Reversing the rise in colorectal cancer cases will come down to increased rates of testing and improved methods of detection.
The average person on the street probably doesn’t know where the thyroid is, let alone what it does. This is understandable, considering most people are not expected to have a detailed understanding of anatomy. The thyroid is a hormone-producing gland found at the base of the neck. For reasons that remain mostly unknown, the rate of thyroid cancer – especially among women – has soared in recent years. The sudden uptick means more effort is being put towards treatment, from targeted chemotherapy to alternative treatment for thyroid cancer.
There are nearly 300,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in the United States every year. While the vast majority of breast cancer cases affect women, men are not immune to this type of cancer. Like other cancers listed, the rate of breast cancer among those 50 or younger continues to go up. The reasons for this unwelcome trend are unclear, but researchers believe it has something to do with hormonal imbalances related to diet.
Many people mistakenly believe skin cancer is a relatively minor and easily treatable form of cancerous growth. While the majority of skin cancer cases are deemed benign or caught early enough to effectively eradicate, the few that prove difficult due to malignancy are steadily increasing.
Cancer of the pancreas is difficult to detect and even more difficult to treat. Very few people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will live longer than three years. Take Steve Jobs, for instance; he was as rich as Croesus and could take advantage of the best medical treatment the world had to offer when it came to pancreatic cancer. He was only 56 years old when pancreatic cancer finally won the battle. However, the majority of pancreatic cancer cases involve patients 65 or older, a testament to the fact that cancer rates are increasing alongside life expectancy.
It’s generally understood that every man – if he lives long enough – will develop prostate cancer. With this in mind, it’s no surprise prostate cancer rates are increasing alongside life expectancy. The good news is that most prostate cancer cases are non-life threatening, but that’s only because the individual is old enough and the growth is slow enough that it’s unlikely prostate cancer will lead to death before something else does. But for men 65 or younger, prostate cancer is a life-threatening condition requiring immediate medical attention.
Cancer rates are rising around the world, with certain types of cancer leading the pack in terms of the frequency of diagnosis. The good news is modern science is evolving alongside; the treatment options for cancer are improving every day.
Julie Steinbeck is a freelance writer from Florida. She enjoys covering topics related to business, health, and science.