The world has certainly made advances in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in recent years. However, that doesn’t mean that in some cases, researchers aren’t still concerned about rising incidence rates.
Millennials are at increased risk of some obese cancers
The American Cancer Society conducted a study that looked at 12 types of cancer that are more likely to occur in obese people. The results showed that Millennials had a higher risk for six out of 12 Cancers versus baby boomers.
The six cancers associated with excess body weight were: colorectal, endometrial, gallbladder, kidney, multiple myeloma, and pancreas. In some cases, the data showed that millennials categorized as obese had twice the incidence rate of baby boomers.
Ahmedin Jemal, DVM Ph.D., a lead / correspondent author of the research paper, clarified that young adults have a low absolute risk for these cancers. “… The future burden of these cancers could worsen as the younger cohorts get older, potentially stalling or undoing the advances made in reducing cancer mortality in recent decades. Cancer trends in young adults often serve as an indication of the future burden of disease in older adults, who are most likely to develop cancer. “
Study shows increasing breast cancer rates worldwide
The World Health Organization said that in late 2020 7.8 million living women worldwide had has been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past five years. The organization confirmed that it is the most common cancer in the world, but found that survival rates improved in the 1980s. The diagnostic options are also improving. For example research showed 95% accuracy when combining Artificial intelligence with radiological review during screenings.
However, a study by a team at the University of Calgary looked at breast cancer rates in pre- and postmenopausal women in 41 countries. It concluded that cases are increasing worldwide, but there were differences based on the location of the patient. Prices from Pre-menopausal breast cancer has increased in higher income countries. However, women from lower-income countries are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer after menopause.
In addition, the risk of premenopausal breast cancer increased in 20 out of 44 populations, each representing a country or ethnic group. The threat in postmenopausal groups increased in 24 of the 44 population groups – most strongly in countries transitioning from a lower to a higher income status.
The study also identified links between a person’s death rate and a person’s country of residence. People with premenopausal breast cancer had a 47% death rate in less developed countries, but it dropped to only 11% in more developed countries. In postmenopausal breast cancer patients, the mortality rate in less developed countries was 56% compared to 21% in more developed countries.
COVID-19 exacerbated cancer risks, studies indicate
Many health experts have warned that it could take years before people can calculate the total burdens from the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, although government officials imposed bans on to protect public health, the prolonged isolation some people experienced weighed on their mental wellbeing. In addition, some people avoided going to hospitals for urgent symptoms – such as chest pain – because they were concerned about contracting the virus in these environments.
The research also shows how the pandemic has had an extraordinary impact on cancer patients and related services.
Oncologists experienced increased stress and burnout
A recent study explains why oncologists were exposed to an increased risk, psychological and emotional stresses during the pandemic. One aspect was the stress associated with the possibility of contracting the virus.
However, the pandemic also required oncologists to delay routine cancer treatments. In addition, they were at increased risk of compassion fatigue, especially when caring for isolated cancer patients who did not have access to their usual services during the pandemic.
The study also discussed the importance of organizational measures to reduce the likelihood of burnout. Dr. Rich Parker, the chief medical officer of a data-driven healthcare company called Arcadia Solutions, was not involved in the study but has valuable insight into team-oriented care. Parker suggested having a team quality officer to oversee contracted actions, including cancer screenings. This step could ensure that specialists are not overloaded with the number of medical images to review.
Coming back to the study, the authors recommended tackling burnout on both a team and an individual level. They also mentioned how using techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy can help oncologists develop self-compassion. Additionally, virtual platforms and social media campaigns can encourage providers to prioritize their wellbeing during the pandemic and beyond.
The pandemic resulted in millions of missed cancer screenings
As the pandemic weighed on health systems, unnecessary surgeries and professional visits were delayed or canceled. Recent research has confirmed the immense impact this decision had on cancer detection.
Researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center investigated missed cancer screenings in the United States due to the pandemic. They looked at detection measures for breast, prostate and colon cancers, which are among the three most affected by screening methods. The team an estimated 9.4 million total Missed number. In addition, the research showed that in April 2020 alone, breast cancer screenings decreased by 90%.
Dr. Ronald Chen, the study’s lead author, commented, “Unfortunately, through the cancellation of appointments and cancer checkups, COVID will indirectly lead to an increase in cancer deaths – another negative consequence of COVID that has not yet received much public attention.”
Health professionals know that early detection of cancer is critical to reducing its spread and giving patients the best chance of survival. Indeed, another study showed that a person’s risk of death increases by 10% for each month of delayed cancer treatment. With certain postponed treatments, such as definitive head and neck radiotherapy, it increased even further. This research looked at relevant studies published from January 2000 to April 2020. As a result, there were treatment delays long before COVID-19.
Cancer remains a global health problem
It is undoubtedly positive that improved treatments and more accurate screening measures can improve the quality of life of people with cancer and lead to earlier treatment. However, the examples here also show that there is also a need for providers to increase awareness of cancer risk factors and the lifestyle choices people can make to minimize them.
Many people have little or no control over where they live and the quality of care in these areas. However, individuals can learn what they can do to reduce their risk of cancer and increase their chances of survival if it does. This will make them feel more confident about their health and give providers more opportunities to improve their results.