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Cancer Deaths in Women Expected to Increase

Jessica Francis

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It’s hard to imagine what the future will look like, but director Robert Zemeckis gave it his best shot in his 1989 classic Back to the Future Part II. This time-travel comedy follows Marty McFly as he travels 26 years into the future to the year 2015. McFly finds himself in a world filled with flying cars, holographic billboards, self-tying shoes, and robots that pump your gas. The future even has rejuvenation clinics, where McFly’s good friend Doc Brown brags, "They took out some wrinkles, did a hair repair, changed the blood, added a good 30 to 40 years to my life. They also replaced my spleen and colon – what do you think?" 

While it’s fun to make whimsical predictions about the future and imagine the possibilities, not all predictions are so light-hearted. Take, for example, cancer statistics. According to a study conducted by the American Cancer Society, cancer deaths in women will rise up to 60 percent by the year 2030. This means an increase of 5.5 deaths worldwide – roughly the population of Denmark.

Cancer incidence and mortality rates have dropped by 20 percent since 1991, a feat which research author Sally Cowal attributes to improved healthcare treatments and tobacco regulation control. However, study results showed an increase of cancer cases in developed countries in the year 2012. Cancer was the second largest cause of death in women worldwide after cardiovascular disease, with breast, lung, colorectal, and cervical cancers claiming the most lives. The highest numbers of cancers in women were seen in the United States, South Korea, the Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium. Early detection and quality health care facilities were cited as the main reasons for these reported cases.

Although cancer cases are expected to increase globally, detection, treatments and survival rates vary significantly by location. Canada, Australia, Israel, Brazil and several European nations are among the highest ranking first world countries in terms of survival statistics. Women in these nations have an 85 percent five-year survival rate following a breast cancer diagnosis. In developing nations such as India, Mongolia, Algeria, and South Africa, the statistics are far grimmer with survival rates below 60 percent.

Surgical Oncologist Dr. Nestor Esnaola, associate director of cancer health disparities and community engagement at Fox Chase Cancer Center Temple Health, emphasized that preventive medications and exams play a crucial role in preventing several of these cancers (Source: CNN). These include:

  • HPV vaccines in males and females to prevent the spread of infections which can cause cervical cancer
  • Routine breast exams to detect breast cancer
  • Hepatitis B vaccination to prevent liver cancer
  • Colonoscopy to detect and prevent colorectal cancer. In locations where colonoscopies are not available, stool samples can be tested for blood and hemoglobin to detect colon cancer

In addition to these preventive measures, both men and women can lower their risk of several cancers by making healthy changes to their diet and lifestyle (Source: Cancer Research UK). Experts estimate that more than 40 percent of cancer cases could be prevented through the following lifestyle modifications:

  • Losing excess weight and maintaining a healthy body
  • Limiting alcohol intake (no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women)
  • Eating a balanced diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein
  • Staying physically active
  • Limiting sun exposure and remembering to use sunscreen
  • Avoiding certain infections which can lead to cancer (such as HPV and HIV)
  • Not smoking / avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke

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