For the statisticians, in 2008 over 500,000 people died of cancer in SE Asia. In that same year 725,000 new cases of cancer were recorded in the region. In 2009 and 2010 those figures increased.
So what are the ‘risk’ factors for cancer? In the developed countries diet and nutrition rates high (around 30 percent), followed by infections and smoking.
Environmental pollution is not so important, being down at around 2 percent. So much for the environmentalists.
Cancer is also a condition most often seen in aging. In fact 78 percent of all newly diagnosed cases of cancer are in people aged more than 55. Again there are national differences. The population in the developed countries is older that that in the developing economies.
So you have cancer – how do we quantify the chances of survival? The statistical research here is concentrated on what is known as “Five year survival rates.” That is, the percentage of people with a particular cancer that are still alive five years after diagnosis. Thus, a cancer with a 90 percent five year survival rate is not as lethal as one with a 10 percent survival rate.
Examination of some common Five year survival rates (in the developed countries) will show that Breast cancer is at 89 percent, stomach 26 percent, lung cancer 16 percent and cervical cancer is 70 percent.
However, when these five year cancer survival rates are looked at in Thailand, the figures are quite different. Breast cancer is 63 percent, stomach cancer 12 percent, lung cancer nine percent and cervical cancer 61 percent.
There are many reasons for this difference, including differences in speed of detection and availability of treatment centers. Thai people living way up-country are definitely disadvantaged. There are also the dietary differences, particularly with stomach cancers.
Early detection is an important factor, and serial examinations can very often pinpoint areas of concern. Pap smears and HPV tests, mammograms, PSA levels and Alpha-Fetoprotein are common examinations that can give an early warning.
This month, the hospital has a ‘Knock Out Cancer’ promotion with packages covering liver, women’s health and prostate cancer. If you are aged more than 55, I would suggest you give these packages your consideration.
by Dr.Iain Corness