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Cancer ‘rapidly’ on rise, but Gundersen doc says number can be reduced

Drew Kelly

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The number of people around the world with cancer is “rapidly growing” according to a WHO study.

The World Health Organization released its findings this month, stating that 18.1 million new cases and 9.6 million deaths will occur in 2018 alone.

Based on the numbers, 1 of 5 men and 1 of 6 women will develop cancer in their life, and 1 of 8 men and 1 of 11 women will die from it.

There is good news, however. Many cancers can now be prevented.

Dr. Kurt Oettel, director of the cancer center at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, said simply taking care of your health can reduce the risk.

“We’re on pace to see obesity as a bigger risk factor for cancer than tobacco and those rates continue to rise,” he said.

Oettel adds that there is too much science and research out there for people to not have a chance to fight cancer.

“To screen — regular mammograms, colonoscopy, prostate screening — for men,” Oettel said, “the earlier stage we can catch a cancer and treat it, the much more likely they’re going to do better long term.”

The study finds that the Americas account for 13.3 percent of the global population and for 21 percent of cancer cases and 14.4 percent of cancer deaths worldwide.

In contrast, the report states “the proportions of cancer deaths in Asia and in Africa (57.3% and 7.3%, respectively) are higher than the proportions of incident cases (48.4% and 5.8%, respectively), because these regions have a higher frequency of certain cancer types associated with poorer prognosis and higher mortality rates, in addition to limited access to
timely diagnosis and treatment in many countries.”