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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Lessons from Cancer Deaths Yesterday – Steve Jobs and 1,499 Others – The Global Toll Is

Yesterday, cancer took Steve Jobs, one of the world’s most creative, wealthy and powerful men; a man able to summon and invoke all the best we presently have to offer for his specific disease. Yesterday, in the US alone, cancer killed another 1,499 Americans. All 1,500 were spouses, lovers, or children, and are irreplaceable in their own circles of family and friends. Overall, cancer is either the first or second leading cause of death in the United Sates, as illustrated by these numbers from the CDC.

Globally, cancer is now calculated as the leading cause of death. The following data are drawn from this ScienceDaily summary, and illustrate the stunning toll, which is projected to double by 2020, and then triple by 2030:

"According to the new report, the burden of cancer doubled globally between 1975 and 2000. It is estimated that it will double again by 2020 and nearly triple by 2030. This translates to far greater numbers of people living with – and dying from – the disease. The report estimates that there were some 12 million new cancer diagnoses worldwide this year, and more than seven million people will die from the disease. The projected numbers for the year 2030 are 20-26 million new diagnoses and 13-17 million deaths."

Why does the toll grow ? There are many answers, and one of them is that disease rates for some cancers continue to climb, regardless of smoking issues. The chart below illustrates the point – note specifically that the top two lines in the chart tell terrible stories: Inexorably climbing cancer rates for childhood cancers and non-Hodgkins lymphomas.

What to do? The study quoted above includes the following recommendations from experts, with emphasis added as to scientific steps:

The six call to action steps issued by the three U.S. organizations include:

  1. making vaccines that prevent cancer causing infections more widely available to low-income nations, including specifically combating cervical cancer through Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI) efforts to make the HPV vaccine accessible and affordable;

  2. committing to a comprehensive tobacco control approach in the U.S., which includes taking measures proven effective in reducing smoking rates and having Congress grant the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate tobacco;

  3. ratifying immediately the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the first ever global public health treaty that sets forth comprehensive measures to reduce health and economic impacts of tobacco;

  4. supporting efforts of non-governmental organizations to build advocacy and resources, empower survivors and reduce suffering in low- to middle-income countries by working with governments, medical professionals and the corporate sector to enable individuals to adopt healthier behaviors;

  5. promoting culturally sensitive risk reduction and education campaigns by leveraging our own successful U.S. efforts to help build capacity of nongovernmental organizations in other countries; and

  6. investing in cancer research and expanding access to prevention and early detection measures in the U.S., with a specific focus on increasing federal funding of medical research.

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