However, millions are now surviving the disease thanks to dramatic advances in science and medicine, according to Dr Lauren Pecorino, the University of Greenwich’s Principal Lecturer in Cancer Biology.
Futhermore, she says the success story is likely to get even better as more young people make lifestyle choices now known to reduce their risks of developing cancer.
Dr Pecorino is the author of Why Millions Survive Cancer: the successes of science (Oxford University Press 2011) – an overview of the disease, and its treatments, for people with little or no previous scientific or medical knowledge.
She says: “A positive diagnosis is never good news but our scientific understanding of this disease has improved greatly, which means the new, highly-targeted therapies available are much more successful.
“Even more importantly, this same science has given us the evidence that is helping today’s young people reduce their risk of being affected by cancer in the future.
“Most cancers result from the accumulation of permanent changes to genes (mutations) over time. Our improved understanding of how cancers develop means we can now encourage young people to take as much control as they can to limit these mutations as they age.”
Dr Pecorino’s lifestyle choices, which science suggests will help young people reduce the risks of developing cancer, include:
1. Maintain a healthy weight throughout your lifetime.
2. Make time for exercise and be physically active.
3. Eat a healthy balanced diet made up of real versus processed foods.
4. Strictly moderate alcohol intake: drop the gin from G&Ts and enjoy fruit cocktails.
5. Do NOT smoke.
6. Be vigilant with cancer screening programmes: (breast, cervical, colon).
7. Use sunscreen during long exposures in the sun.
8. Young women should be vaccinated against HPV to help prevent cervical cancer.
9. Limit excess exposure to estrogen: women should consider having children younger.
10. Have suspicious symptoms checked with a physician and know that women can maintain fertility before receiving chemotherapy treatment.
World Cancer Day occurs on 4 February each year to raise awareness of the disease and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. It is led by the http://www.uicc.org/, a global consortium of some 470 cancer-fighting organisations in more than 120 countries.
For more details, please see http://www.worldcancerday.org/
Story by Public Relations
Picture: Dr Lauren Pecorino.