Cancer, known to be abnormal cell growth, is devastating when diagnosed. Unfortunately, the number of cases for several types of cancer including liver and thyroid cancer are increasing. Find out why these cancers and others are on the rise, and what can be done about them here.
According to a BBC Health News article from September 2018, some types of cancer are on the rise. Worldwide, more than 18.1 million people are expected to receive a cancer diagnosis in the following year, with almost 10 million people dying from the disease in the same period. Diagnoses show a four million case increase since 2012, with deaths up by almost 1.5 million. While the article explains the growing and aging population affects these numbers, other causes also relate to the increases.
Sadly, one in six women and one in five men can expect to receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. This proportion is not improved in wealthier nations like the U.S. or the U.K. Instead, a wealthy lifestyle more frequently relates to cancer than poverty. Right now lung cancer, female breast cancer and colon cancer are the top three killers among worldwide cancers.
Some types of cancer on the rise today include:
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Thyroid cancer
- Esophageal cancer
Why Liver Cancer Is on the Rise
According to the National Cancer Institute's annual report on cancer status, liver cancer deaths increased in people with hepatitis B and C. These diseases cause cancer, despite hepatitis B being preventable through a vaccine. Hepatitis C is also treatable for 90 percent of cases through new medications.
Other reasons for increases in liver cancer rates include non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. When a patient suffers fatty liver disease with cancer, their longevity is also shorter than a liver cancer patient with hepatitis B or C.
About four million people in the U.S. have hepatitis C, but only 25% know of their disease. One in three Americans carry some form of fatty liver disease, but this number will increase to one in two Americans by 2030. So the American Liver Foundation expects liver cancer numbers to continue to rise.
Melanoma Cancer Rates Are Also Rising
According to a 2015 report by the American Cancer Society, melanoma skin cancers are also increasing in numbers. By 2030, the average number of cases per year will increase by 112,000. Melanoma is a quickly spreading skin cancer caused by overexposure to UV rays from the sun or artificial UV light. The American Cancer Society based its article on a CDC report of the same time period.
Because melanoma is largely preventable, the CDC calls for greater efforts by communities to spread the word about melanoma and its causes. The national organization also pushes for policy changes to protect people of all ages. The CDC believes the number of new cases could actually reduce by 21,000 per year with $250 million in lower treatment costs, if communities put more effort into public education and prevention policies.
Of course, the biggest factor in your own risk for melanoma is protection of your skin. The CDC and American Cancer Society urge people to cover their skin when out in the sun, protect their eyes with sunglasses, use sunscreen with SPF30 or higher and avoid tanning beds or sunlamps.
Expected Increases in Multiple Myeloma Cases
According to the journal Oncology, Americans are among populations seeing increases in multiple myeloma cases. This cancer of mature plasma cells in bone marrow has increased worldwide throughout the last three decades. Middle income and low income populations show the greatest impact.
The biggest issue in these increases seems to be access to effective drugs and procedures, such as stem cell transplants. In 2016, 98,437 people died of this type of cancer globally, with 130,000 new cases reported in the same time period. From 1990 to 2016, cancer rates for multiple myeloma increased by 126 percent. Deaths grew by 94 percent.
American Thyroid Cancers Certainly On the Rise
The American Society of Clinical Oncology explored whether thyroid cancers are in fact on the rise in America, or whether diagnosis methods have improved to cause rising detection of the disease.
In fact, the rate of thyroid cancer diagnosis in America is growing faster than any other rate of cancer detection. There has been a 200 percent increase in diagnoses since 1970. Many doctors point to improved methods and more frequent neck imaging, fine needle aspirations and discoveries of neck abnormalities as the reason for the increase in thyroid cancer cases. They also claim increased detection of non-life threatening thyroid cancers increase these numbers, when those benign forms did not affect health of diagnosed patients.
But the American Society of Clinical Oncology believes increased detection is not the reason for rising thyroid cancer rates. Research shows that from 1973 to 2013, there were increases of 3.6 percent of deadly cases per year. More deaths from the disease show a clear increase in thyroid cancer in the United States.
Researchers believe the increased occurrence of deadly thyroid cancers comes down to our changing environment. Ionizing radiation is the biggest culprit. Iodine intake, chemical exposure and obesity are other factors.
A Rise in Esophageal Cancers
Poor diet, alcohol and obesity all play a role in esophageal cancer. Because these lifestyle factors are on the rise in America, increases in esophageal cancer rates make sense. The most rapidly rising form of this cancer in the U.S. is esophageal adenocarcinoma. In fact, the increases show a worldwide epidemic and faster growth than other cancer types, according to Dr. Leon J. Yoder of Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Southwestern Regional Medical Center in Oklahoma.
According to Dr. Yoder, America experiences five or six cases of this cancer in 100,000 people. But in China, people suffer esophageal cancers at a rate of 50 or 60 per 100,000 people. The one group seeing a dramatic reduction in this cancer is African-American men. These men also die from the disease at a lower rate than other populations.
Experts believe that our lifestyle contributes to the rise in American esophageal cancers. The biggest risk factors include obesity, alcohol consumption, smoking, diet, GERD and drinking too many hot liquids.
Obesity factors into the rise in esophageal cancers, particularly when it comes to abdominal obesity. Carrying weight around your midsection increases your chances of suffering this disease. This shows why men experience three times higher likelihood of esophageal cancer than women, as men also carry more weight around their mid-section.
Drinking too much alcohol, particularly hard liquor, increases your risk for cancer of the esophagus, too. Despite smoking declining in the U.S., the connection between smoking and this cancer remains clear. High fat and red meat diets also cause greater esophagus cancer risk, especially when the diet is also low in fruits and vegetables.
Chronic acid reflux or GERD leads to inflamed esophagus tissues, a condition that also increases your risk for cancer. If you suffer GERD for five years or more, you need screening for Barrett's esophagus. This condition of inflamed tissues frequently leads to esophageal cancer.
Frequently drinking hot liquids also connects to the rise in esophageal cancers. In China, people start drinking very hot tea from a young age. Dr. Yoder believes this daily habit connects to higher incidences of the cancer in that country.
Talk to Your Doctor About Rising Cancer Rates and Your Risk Factors
There are many types of cancer. For each type, many risk factors also exist. To fully understand your own potential risks for developing cancer, talk to your doctor. By looking at your lifestyle, family history and medical history, your health care provider can help you reduce your risk.
This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author. This content has not been paid for by any advertiser nor does WhipCancer.org recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. WhipCancer.org does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and information contained on this site is intended for informational purposes only. Please seek the advice of your physician or other professional healthcare provider with any questions you may have.