Some cancer statistics can sound dismal, while others offer a ray of hope. Well, some of the world’s most respected cancer research teams have some good news to share—news that will give many cancer patients more than just a ray of hope. A recent Time magazine article titled “The Conspiracy to End Cancer,” reported that individuals diagnosed with cancer have a better chance of survival today than they did in 1975.
Five-year survival rates are on the rise with 49 percent of cancer patients surviving for five years after diagnosis during 1975 through 1977, 56 percent during 1987 through 1989, and 68 percent during 2002 through 2008. Further, according the National Cancer Institute (NIH), overall cancer death rates have continued to decline in the United States among both men and women, and among all major racial and ethnic groups.
Other research findings published by the NIH are equally elating. During 2000 through 2009, death rates among men decreased for 10 of the 17 most common cancers. These include lung cancer, prostate, colon and rectum, leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, kidney, stomach, myeloma, oral cavity and pharynx, and larynx cancer. During the same 10-year period, death rates among women decreased for 15 of the 18 most common cancers also including lung cancer, colon and rectum, leukemia, oral cavity and pharynx, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, stomach cancer, and kidney cancer. Breast, ovary, cervix, bladder, esophagus, gallbladder, brain and other nervous system, and myeloma are also on the list.
The rise in cancer survival rates can be attributed to astounding advances in technology, a dogged pursuit of the development and promotion of prevention methods, and increased awareness. In addition, research “dream teams,” don’t like the word “slow.” They have a goal to “launch trials as rapidly as the geneticists and biochemists solve the equation of matching mutations with drug compounds,” according to Time. Further, Dr. Daniel Haber, Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, stated that in the old days it took 30 years to test a compound. Scientists have whittled the timeline down to an eight-to-10 year process. Team researchers have also reduced the timeline from the discovery of a specific mutation to a drug to treat it, down to two years.
While the latest cancer news is cause for celebration, it is important to note that there is still much work to be done and you can help. Prevention is key as well as regular check-ups and screenings, which can lead to early diagnosis. Eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and regular exercise are just a few ways to prevent disease.