According to new research published in the American Association for Cancer Research journal pancreatic cancer will continue to rise in the coming decades. The report suggests by 2030 the top cancer killers will be lung cancer, pancreas cancer and liver cancer.
Currently the most dangerous cancer is lung cancer, with breast cancer holding the second spot for women and prostate cancer holding the second spot for men. Colorectal cancer comes in third currently.
The research paper looked at current cases of each form of cancer and the death rates for each form of cancer. Then it looked at demographic changes in the United States to determine which cancers will be more prevalent and dangerous in the future.
Thanks to improved cancer screening and treatment options, the overall cancer rate has been decreasing in recent decades. While some forms of cancer like breast, colon and prostate are expected to continue declining, the researchers suggest bladder, liver, pancreatic and leukaemia cancers will rise.
According to Dr. Otis Brawley, the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, pancreatic cancer has been rising over the last 15 years as most other forms of cancer decline. Doctors in the United Kingdom have been seeing similar results as pancreatic cancer rises.
Dr. Otis Brawley suggests: “Many Americans are not aware that the combination of obesity, high-caloric intake and lack of physical activity is the second-leading cause of cancer in the U.S.”. Brawley says that 12 forms of cancer are linked to obesity and that is a huge problem for the United States more so than other parts of the world like Europe.
Because the United States has so many baby boomers and so many are overweight, these cancers are going to increase fairly quickly. Researchers suggest that the total number of cancer cases will reach 2.1 million in 2030, up from 1.5 million in 2010. Additionally because so many people are living longer that also means cancer risk is greater for these forms of cancer.
The shift in prevalence of these forms of cancer may mean governments, charities and research bodies may need to shift their focus. Currently breast, prostate, lung and colorectal cancers receive the most funding because they are the most common forms of cancer. They will still be the most common forms of cancer, but breast, prostate and colorectal will be killing less than pancreatic and liver cancer.
That means in the coming years various bodies will have to shift their focus. From the top 4 most common cancers, it is expected that by 2030 colorectal will fall behind thyroid, melanoma and uterine cancers in terms of the total number of cases.
Thankfully an increased emphasis on early screening has helped reduce the death rate from colorectal cancers also. While the increase in thyroid cancer is alarming, it is typically not a very dangerous form of cancer. Pancreatic cancer on the other hand only has a 6% survival rate 5 years after diagnosis. Pancreatic cancer can also be difficult to diagnose because of the surrounding tissue in the body. By the time most pancreatic cancers are diagnosed they are inoperable, so it is one area of research that drastically needs a funding increase.