It’s a necessary but sobering annual rite of spring – ASCO members arrive in Chicago for the annual meeting of oncologists at McCormick Place. Numbers about the meeting are set out in a press release from ASCO. Numbers help to communicate the massive scale of cancer in the US and around the globe:

“ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) today highlighted results from five major studies to be presented at ASCO’s 50th Annual Meeting, May 30-June 3, 2014, in Chicago.

***

The studies are among the more than 5,000 abstracts publicly released today on ASCO’s website, at abstracts.asco.org in advance of the Annual Meeting. Other major research, including studies selected for the meeting’s Plenary session, will be released as Late-Breaking Abstracts on-site at Chicago’s McCormick Place and online on a rolling basis throughout the meeting. The meeting, with the theme “Science and Society: The Next 50 Years,” is expected to draw more than 25,000 cancer specialists from around the world.”

All of cancers numbers are stunning.  Indeed, massive waves of cancers are sickening and killing our lovers, spouses, children, parents and friends. There are, for example, 500,000 cancer deaths – each year –  in the US.  Every 10 minutes, a person in the US dies from a blood cancer. Then there are the new cancers. In the next 10 years, new US cancer diagnoses  will equal the populations of the cities (not suburbs) of LA, NY and Chicago. (That’s 1.6 million per year, per the American Cancer Society). Imagine the reaction in government money and attention if Al Quaeda threatened that it would in the next decade slowly, viciously and painfully kill everyone in those 3 cities.  But, the budget of our National Cancer Institute is stalled at an annual  $ 5 billion, as described here.  Meanwhile, the budget is over 10x greater for “Homeland Security” at over $ 50 billion; it’s budget is described here.

Here’s what the American Society of Oncologists sees ahead on a global scale:

“The Top Global Killers: Cancer and Other NCDs 

Each year, an estimated 7.6 million people die from cancer – more than from HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. It is estimated that the incidence of cancer will continue to increase during the next decade, from 12.7 million annual cases in 2008 to more than 20 million by 2030, with the majority of new cases occurring in low- and middle-income countries. Cancer and other NCDs, such as diabetes and heart disease, account for a combined 36 million deaths each year, or an estimated 63 percent of all annual deaths worldwide, according to a recent report from the World Health Organization. These global statistics are staggering and represent what UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has called “a public health emergency in slow motion.””