It’s the word that no one ever wants to hear: cancer. Although our parents or grandparents might have heard that word and considered it an automatic death sentence, today’s focus on prevention, early detection, and treatment means that people who are diagnosed with cancer often have a very good chance of beating the disease.
The Latest Statistics
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), death rates from cancer have been decreasing since the early 1990s. In a recently published report on cancer from the years 1975 through 2004 (the latest year for which statistics are available), the NCI noted that, “Death rates decreased on average 2.1 percent per year from 2002 through 2004, nearly twice the annual decrease of 1.1 percent per year from 1993 through 2002.”
The NCI emphasized that, “Death rates are the best indicator of progress against cancer.” This is because the diagnosis rates of cancer can often be viewed in a positive light. For example, an increase in the diagnosis of prostate cancer (a typically non-fatal cancer) may be the result of a greater number of men obtaining PSA tests. Similarly, an increase in mammography may lead to an increase in the diagnosis of breast cancer, but early detection almost always leads to better outcomes. In other words, more women may be diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, but fewer will die from the disease.
According to the NCI report, mortality rates “decreased for 12 of the 15 most common causes of cancer death in men (i.e., cancers of the lung, prostate, colon and rectum, bladder, kidney, stomach, brain, and oral cavity as well as leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma).” Among women, mortality rates “decreased for 10 of the 15 most common cancers (i.e., breast, colon and rectum, stomach, kidney, cervix, brain and bladder cancers as well as non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, and myeloma).” Unfortunately, while deaths from blood and cervical cancers decreased, those from liver cancer and lung cancer increased for women.
When the Unthinkable Happens
If you or a loved one are diagnosed with cancer – whether bone cancer, skin cancer, ovarian cancer, or some other form – it’s natural to jump to conclusions. That is why it is imperative to gather all of the information possible on the form of cancer and its treatments. Thankfully, the Internet can provide a wealth of information on cancer and cancer treatments. Becoming education about the disease your fighting may well be your best weapon in beating the disease. Information gives you the power to ask the right questions of health care providers, better understand your options, and pave the way to making an informed decision about cancer treatment.
Everyone Needs Support
The Internet is also a critical tool for finding the support you need while battling cancer. If you’ve received the diagnosis, it’s extraordinarily helpful to connect with a network of people who share your experience. If a loved one has received the diagnosis, you need to get a grasp of what lies on the road ahead, and get the support you need in order to support the one you love.
Remember, cancer isn’t necessarily a death sentence, and information and support are two of the most potent weapons you can have in your arsenal to battle the disease.