The American Cancer Society recently released its 2019 year-in-review data, which revealed insights from cancer research it conducted throughout the year. Among top stories for the year, cancer researchers found a connection between cancer and obesity. They also found that exercise is of great value during the cancer journey of the patient. Clinical studies also suggest that economic and social gaps can affect the quality of care that a cancer patient receives.
With this information, physicians and cancer centers can more effectively identify weakness areas during early diagnosis and treatment. They also can identify the patient behaviors that affect how care proceeds. This research can be of help to patients with many cancers including mesothelioma.
Cancer Death Rate in the US Continues to Fall
Data from the American Cancer Society indicates that the overall death rate from cancer in the US is declining. Records from 2016 show the death rate for cancer for both men and women dropped by 1.5% every year since 1991, and 27% in that entire time period. Cancer experts credit the decline in cancer mortality to better methods of early detection and treatment options, as well as fewer people smoking. (Cancer.org)
However, mesothelioma statistics show a steady mortality rate for this fatal cancer of the lung lining caused by asbestos exposure. In 1999, the CDC reported 2479 mesothelioma deaths for that year. The number was 2651 death from mesothelioma for 2017.
While there are minimal changes in deaths from mesothelioma, clinical studies have found better survival rates in the last several years. Clinical trials are looking at new diagnosis techniques and treatment options. One recent advancement is the FDA approval of a new mesothelioma treatment called NovoTFF-100L.
The new mesothelioma treatment is a noninvasive option for cancer patients by sending low-intensity electrical filed to the affected parts of the body. Because of this, the new therapy may be more useful to patients who are in the more advanced stages of mesothelioma and cannot tolerate surgery. This type of new treatment may improve the patient’s life expectancy and stop the cancer from spreading as fast.
Study Looks at Benefits of Various Treatment Plans
While there have been advancements in cancer treatments and technology for many cancer patients, clinical studies indicate more research is required to pinpoint the characteristics of cancer patients who will receive benefits from more cancer treatment or end-of-life care. This came after a clinical study showed that patients suffering from incurable cancer could be overtreated with conventional treatments. They should instead be referred to various palliative treatment options to reduce pain and improve comfort.
In the clinical study, 30% of patients who passed away within a month of being diagnosed of terminal type of cancer got aggressive treatment. The treatment included radiation, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy.
Over the ten years of the study, using treatments for incurable types of cancer, such as many forms of asbestos lung cancer, decreased. Cancer experts say this was because doctors and other specialists had a better understanding of quality of life as opposed to length of life.
While cancer researchers did not have enough access to information about survival rates of patients who had a palliative treatment plan, they think more study is needed to pinpoint more accurate survival rates for patients who do not have aggressive cancer treatments.
Social and Economic Influences Affect Cancer Treatment
The 2019 data shows a lower incidence of cancer and death rates, researchers did find socioeconomic differences as a threat to the trend of lower mortality rates. For instance, people who live in poorer counties in the United States are more likely to engage in unhealthy actions, such as smoking and eating poor food. Smoking and poor diet are major factors that increase the chances of getting cancer throughout life. Death rates in poorer counties were 40% higher for males with liver and lung cancers than those in richer counties.
For example, the American Cancer Society’s findings show definitively that physical activity helps to keep cancer at bay. It has been shown that regular exercise can prevent cancer in the stomach, kidney, bladder, breast, the lining of the uterus, and esophagus. Higher levels of exercise also can lower the risk even more. People who have a diagnosis of breast, colorectal or prostate cancer can lower their risk of cancer coming back. Experts say that if you are sedentary, even doing light activities, such as walking slowly and putting away groceries can help you live longer. (Ajpmonline.org)
Further, while cancers from smoking are on the decline, cancers that are caused by obesity and lack of exercise are on the rise. These cancers are endometrial cancer and breast cancer in women, which seems to be related to excess weight and poor exercise.
Occupation and Access to Medical Screenings Affect Cancer Odds
A person’s job and access to common medical screenings and higher-quality medical treatment also can affect the odds of getting cancer. For instance, mesothelioma is most often a problem for blue-collar workers who were exposed to asbestos in various heavy industry occupations, such as shipbuilding and railroads. Mesothelioma has nonspecific symptoms and a latency period as long as 40 years, so most cases are diagnosed when it is too late to save the patient.
These aspects of mesothelioma, in addition to racial and ethnic differences that affect treatment and diagnosis, may continue to have an influence on the mortality rate for mesothelioma. Getting an early diagnosis for mesothelioma and other cancers can give the patient a more favorable prognosis. The patient also can get access to more aggressive treatment choices than patients who get a late diagnosis.
Statistics from the American Cancer Society can help to figure out research areas through 2020 for all kinds of cancer, including mesothelioma. With more research and insight, cancer doctors work constantly to boost survival rates of cancer and improve factors that could negatively affect treatment.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and think you were exposed to asbestos during your career, it is important to talk to a licensed mesothelioma attorney in your area. You could be eligible for compensation.