for The Macomb Daily Newspaper(www.macombdaily.com/contact/)
Mount Clemens, Missouri — Around the globe, chronic disease caused 63 percent of all deaths in 2008, claiming the lives of 36 million people. These illnesses, however, don't just kill people — they destroy local economies.
Cancer alone cost $895.2 billion worldwide, more than any other cause of death, according to an American Cancer Society/Livestrong Report. That's three times as much as tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS combined.
A historic meeting of the United Nations last fall brought to light the health crisis — along with the urgent need for a coordinated response. Other non-communicable diseases contributing to the disease epidemic include: diabetes, heart disease and chronic respiratory illness. The only other previous such meeting of the UN tackled HIV/AIDS.
In commemoration of World Cancer Day, Feb. 4, the American Cancer Society is encouraging Americans to learn what they can do personally to address the global crisis by calling 800-227-2345 or visiting global.cancer.org.
In the Million Mom Challenge (www.millionmomchallenge), 50 women from around the country met in Washington to increase awareness and receive training on how they can address maternal health concerns world-wide.
"What we're trying to do is reduce cancer rates in developing countries, particularly those related to reproductive health," explained Ann McMikel, managing director of global health for the American Cancer Society. "Through screening and Pap smears, we have made great strides in decreasing cervical cancer deaths in the United States. But that is not the case in Africa and South America."
By joining the "conversation," McMikel said, the organization is optimistic women and moms will discover ways to connect with their counterparts in other countries, find camraderie and share support, particularly through social media.
The specific how's have not yet been fully defined, McMikel said, but the key message is this: "Get Involved!"
"This meeting has given us the potential to set the global health community on a path toward real change, measured in saved lives and diminished suffering," said John R. Seffrin, CEO of the American Cancer Society. "Our work is really just beginning."
Here are some highlights from the American Cancer Society's annual U.S. report, Cancer Statistics 2012:
Between 2004-2008, overall cancer incidence declined 0.6 percent per year in men and remained stable in women, while cancer death rates decreased by 1.8 percent per year in men and by 1.6 percent per year in women.
Cancer death rates declined in men and women of every racial/ethnic group with the exception of American Indians/Alaska Natives, among whom rates have remained stable. The reduction in overall cancer death rates since 1990 in men and 1991 in women translates to avoiding more than a million total deaths during that time period.
A total of 1,638,910 new cancer cases and 577,190 deaths from cancer are projected to occur in the United States in 2012.
The most rapid decline in death rates occurred among African American and Hispanic men (2.4 percent and 2.3 percent per year, respectively).
Death rates continue to decline for all four major cancer sites (lung, colorectum, breast, and prostate), with lung cancer accounting for almost 40 percent of the total decline in men and breast cancer accounting for 34 percent of the total decline in women.
Cancer incidence and death rates vary considerably among racial and ethnic groups. For all cancer sites combined, African American men have a 15 percent higher incidence rate and a 33 percent higher death rate than white men, whereas African American women have a 6 percent lower incidence rate but a 16 percent higher death rate than white women.
Compared with whites, African American men and women have poorer survival rates once cancer is diagnosed. The 5-year relative survival is lower in African Americans than in whites for every stage of diagnosis for nearly every type of cancer.
Despite declines in incidence rates for the most common cancers, the incidence of several cancers has increased in the past decade, including cancers of the pancreas, liver, thyroid and kidney, and melanoma of the skin, as well as esophageal adenocarcinoma and certain sub sites of oropharyngeal cancer associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.
The reasons for these increasing trends are not entirely known. Part of the increase (for esophageal adenocarcinoma and cancers of the pancreas, liver, and kidney) may be linked to the increasing prevalence of obesity as well as increases in early detection practices for some cancers.
Cancer Statistics 2012 can be viewed at cacancerjournal.com; Cancer Facts & Figures 2012 is available at cancer.org/statistics.