As we come to the end of an incredibly extraordinary year, one that started with so much promise but ends with so much uncertainty. We wanted to take a look at where we are today with cancer, and what the future holds for people living with cancer, along with the impact that cancer has on the world around us.
What’s happening with cancer today?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t make for pleasant reading. Data released on December 14th by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) suggested the updated 2020 Globocan estimates on the global cancer burden now stands at 19.3 million cases with 10 million deaths in 2020.
The report further suggests that globally, 1 in 5 people develop cancer during their lifetime, and 1 in 8 men and 1 in 11 women die from the disease.
These new estimates also state that more than 50 million people live within five years of a past cancer diagnosis. The primary reason for driving this increase is ageing populations globally, and various socio-economic risk factors.
While none of this is good news, the most concern is that for the 1st time, female breast cancer has become the most commonly diagnosed cancer surpassing lung cancer and it represents 1 in 4 cancers diagnosed among women globally. Colorectal, lung, cervical, and thyroid cancers are also common among women.
Lung cancer and prostate cancer are the most common among men, together accounting for nearly one-third of all male cancers.
Furthermore, the report confirms that cancer does not discriminate against race, colour or creed. Because no longer does lung cancer remain the leading cause of death in what is considered low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Today it is the leading cause of cancer deaths in most of the high-income regions including North America, Europe and Australia.
But it’s not all bad news
Despite the recent Globocan data announcing an increase in the number of cancer cases and cancer deaths in 2020, it’s not all bad news. Throughout the year, a host of research papers highlighting the positive steps that have been achieved regarding the better treatment of Breast, Colorectal, Pancreatic and Prostate cancer were published.
Alongside this, the US-based Centre for Cancer Research announced that during 2021 a series of new clinical trials would be taking place covering various aspects of Cervical Cancer, advanced/metastatic solid tumours and hairy cell Leukemia.
Furthermore in Australia, scientists are ready to start clinical trials in the next three years on a breakthrough cancer vaccine. While in Shanghai, China; researchers recently announced that a new type of test they have been developing that detects DNA cells in urine is better at detecting some bladder cancers than the traditional test known as urine cytology.
So what does the future hold?
2021 could be a significant year in the fight against cancer. Mainly as the result of the research teams selected to receive pilot funds to develop their ideas into larger, final applications in the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and Cancer Research UK Cancer Grand Challenges, initiative will be announced.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI), and Cancer Research UK Cancer Grand Challenges, is an international initiative created to address profound and unanswered questions in cancer research.
Through the Cancer Grand Challenges, NCI and Cancer Research UK will seek novel ideas from multidisciplinary research teams from around the globe that offer the potential to make bold advances in cancer treatments, innovate and carry out cutting-edge research and improve outcomes for people affected by cancer.
Launched in 2015 the NCI and Cancer Research UK Grand Challenge initiative has overseen two rounds of Grand Challenge awards.
Currently, these awards are funding teams focusing on identifying preventable causes of cancer; creating virtual reality maps of tumours; preventing unnecessary breast cancer treatment; studying tumour metabolism from every angle, along with understanding why cancers grow in some tissues and not in others, plus finding new ways to tackle inflammation-associated cancer, and manipulating the microbiome to beat bowel cancer.
For 2021, the NCI and Cancer Research UK have set nine challenges covering an extensive array of cancer treatments and research. And expect to co-fund approximately four awards. With the winning multidisciplinary teams each being awarded roughly $25 million over five years.
The last word
So as we say goodbye to 2020 and hello to a brand new year, we can confidently say that despite the uncertain times surrounding us. Positive steps continue to dramatically reduce cancer prevalence and improve the lives of cancer patients and their families.
About Cancer Pro
Cancer Pro is the voice of the world’s cancer physicians and oncology professionals in Malaysia and is the trusted compassionate resource for people with cancer, their families and caregivers. For more information regarding cancer and the various cancer treatments, please visit www. cancer-pro.com.