As the number of individuals diagnosed with cancer increases, so do the number of cancer survivors today, which is good news. In June 2011, there were 12 million cancer survivors in the US. and just 6 months later this number grew to 13.7 million. By 2020, the number will swell to 22 million--and 23 percent of those cancer survivors are people who have survived breast cancer.
I recently read information posted on the American Cancer Society’s website that 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with a life-threatening cancer in their life time. When we look globally at breast cancer, the statistics demonstrate that every 29 seconds someone is diagnosed; and every 69 seconds someone dies of breast cancer.
Efforts across the globe
I’ve been involved with the Breast Health Global Initiative (BHGI) for several years, working hard to address the sickness and death that continue to face women with breast cancer in developing countries. During our last BHGI conference (October 2012, in Austria), we happened to be working to identify the various “treatments” and services that must be readily available before a country can truly provide breast cancer patients with basic care: I found it sobering that two of the first needs we identified were “access to charcoal” and “access to pain medications.”
We in the West are lucky
So you see how very fortunate we are here in the U.S., where we have available to us comprehensive and state-of-the-art cancer centers able to provide breast cancer treatment in keeping with NCCN treatment guidelines. We also have clinical trials access, support, navigation, technology for early detection, and the latest evidence-based treatments.
And until there is a cure and true prevention, we will still need a World Cancer Day to remind us that we have a long way to go before this national day can be retired from the calendar.
P.S. Wondering what “access to charcoal” means? Charcoal is used to help control the odor that attends very advanced cases of breast cancer. Again, we are lucky.