The 2018 Nobel Prize for Medicine was recently awarded to Professors James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo for developing a cancer treatment method that utilizes the body’s immune system to fight the disease. Discoveries such as this continue to be among the foremost goals of the medical community, because of the global impact of the disease. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the world — according to the World Health Organization — killing close to 10 million people each year. While extraordinary progress has been made in both the prevention and treatment of cancer, a cure remains elusive.
No place is immune to cancer, and nearly everyone is familiar with the disease in one form or another. We have learned much about cancer, yet there is much more still to learn.
To identify the most surprising facts about cancer, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed recent reports released by the American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, Cancer Atlas, and World Health Organization. We opted for generally less well-known facts.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans die each year from cancer. This year, over 600,000 are expected to die, according to the ACS. However, the chances of survival are much greater than they were five decades ago. The five-year survival rate for all cancers rose from 49% in the mid-1970s to 68% in 2010. Between prevention measures, such as screenings and lifestyle habits, and improvement in treatments, more cancer patients can survive the disease.
The results of improved preventive care, including earlier diagnosis and treatment are promising. In 2016, 15.5 million cancer survivors were alive in the United States, and that number is projected to increase to 20.3 million by 2026.
New drugs and therapies, which are the result of research and clinical trials, have provided more effective treatments for patients. The ability to decipher code in the genome may have biologists on the cusp of being able to erase and rewrite problematic code prenatally, so that the child won’t develop the disease in its lifetime.
Researchers are trying to identify how likely a type of cancer is to develop because of genetics, the environment, viruses, or by random chance. Knowing the type and amount of risk of each cancer can help to prevent its onset.