Surgeon-oncologists intervene on a patient in a department of the Paoli-Calmettes Institute, in Marseille, on November 2nd, 2017
Cancer research is providing more and more treatments and improving survival, but World Cancer Day Sunday is an opportunity to remember that there are more and more patients.
Cancer, or all the diseases that are grouped under this generic name, killed 8.8 million people in 2015 according to the World Health Organization.
This makes it the second leading cause of death worldwide, after cardiovascular disease.
The paradox is that we are surviving better and better thanks to advances in medicine, but that the number of cases is increasing. According to WHO, it is expected to jump by 70% over the next two decades.
Cancers in the world
„We know how to prevent, we know how to detect, we know how to heal, better and better, we know how to take charge, and at best, we are stuck in the fight against cancer,“ says Christophe Leroux. Delegate for communication of the League against cancer in France.
For the organization, which is celebrating 100 years this year, the fight is never over.
Several factors explain the increasing frequency of the disease in the world.
First, the aging of the population, since the risk of getting cancer increases with age.
Then there are structural factors. The ravages of tobacco, the leading cancer product in the world. The „junk food“, the generalization in the world of an industrial diet that advances obesity, a risk factor.
Finally industrialization and urbanization poorly controlled, causing cancer due to exposure to pollutants such as asbestos, heavy metals, dioxins, fine particles, etc.
– Inequalities in care –
A study just published by Lancet, covering 37.5 million patients between 2000 and 2014, shows that survival is progressing however.
„If we want fewer deaths from cancer, there are two ways: firstly a better prevention, secondly improve the outcome“ for those affected, told AFP one of its authors, Michel Coleman, epidemiologist from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
For breast cancer for example, survival remains high in the richest countries of the world (90% in the United States, 87% in France for example), and it has increased significantly in developing countries.
In Algeria, for example, very incomplete data are encouraging: 77% of women affected survived in 2010-2014, compared to 39% in 2000-2004.
And in cancer as elsewhere, money is the nerve of war. „Equity“ is the theme of this World Day in 2018. And the money needed to cure cancer is so high that this equity is very poorly secured today.
„It seems plausible that the global cost of cancer treatments and care in 2017 is already well over $ 300 billion,“ according to researchers who published in Lancet.
Another study, in Cancer Epidemiology, estimates that $ 46 billion in productivity lost each year in the five „Brics“ countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), which account for 42% of cancer deaths.
„Lack of access to treatment results in premature deaths that could have been avoided,“ said Sanchia Aranda, Executive Director of Cancer Council Australia.
Research is progressing, however fundamental or applied, with more and more studies, laboratories and treatments.
In May, the Iqvia Pharmaceutical Services Group listed more than „600 molecules in the final stage of development“ in the world, compared with some 400 years ago. But not all patients benefit as quickly.