Today’s Factismal: If you had been diagnosed with cancer in 1977, you would have had a 50:50 chance of dying within five years; today, you have a 68% chance of living more than five years.
Cancer is one of the scariest diseases around. In part, that’s because cancer can be caused by so many different things: smoking, poor diet, viruses, chemicals, radiation, genetics, or immune problems, to name a few. And in part, it is because cancer can strike nearly any part of your body, from your lungs (mesothilioma) to your brain (glioma) to your kidneys (renal cell carcinoma) to your bowels (adenocarcinoma) to your skin (melanoma). But mostly, it is because until recently a cancer diagnosis was tantamount to a death sentence; for most cancers, you were expected to live less than five years.
But things are getting better. Some types of cancer are now known to be easily prevented (e.g., lung cancer by not smoking) and others can be cured if they are caught early enough (e.g., bowel cancer with a colonoscopy). Thanks to advances in our understanding of cancer, nearly 14 million people today can label themselves as cancer survivors. However, the battle is far from over – there will be more than a million and a half new people diagnosed with cancer in the US alone this year.
That battle is why WHO and the American Cancer Society have made April into Cancer Awareness Month. They hope that education about how to prevent cancer and fundraising for research into cancer cures will help to make this disease a thing of the past.
If simply giving money and living healthy isn’t enough for you, then why not get involved in the research yourself? The folks at Cell Slider would like your help in analyzing real, honest-to-goodness cancer data. It doesn’t take long and you can help win the fight against cancer (lab coat optional):