Oncology

Cancer Prevalence and Global Drug Market

Cancer accounted for 8.2 million deaths in 2012 and is a leading cause of death worldwide. The most common cancers include lung (1.59 million deaths), liver (745 000 deaths), stomach (723 000 deaths), colorectal (694 000 deaths), breast (521 000 deaths) and esophageal cancer (400 000 deaths).

Due to the growing prevalence of cancer, the global market for cancer drugs is also growing hitting approximately $100 billion in sales. IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics projects that the market would reach around $147 billion by 2018.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Timely and accurate diagnosis is critical for the effective treatment of cancer. That is mainly because different types of cancer require different treatment regimen. Various modalities including surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy may be used to treat the patient depending on the type and stage of cancer. Treatment goals include curing the cancer whenever possible and/or improving the patient’s quality of life by providing both palliative care and psychological support.

Global Action Plan for Prevention

The World Health Organization (WHO) launched the Global Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases in 2013. The goal of the initiative is to reduce premature mortality from cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease by 25 percent and to achieve this goal by 2025. The plan also includes reducing the prevalence of tobacco use by 30 percent.

In order to facilitate the achievement of these goals, the WHO has collaborated with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the United Nations organizations within the UN Noncommunicable Diseases Interagency taskforce and partners. All of them are committed to working towards cancer prevention and control, to conduct research on the causes of cancer, to monitor the burden of cancer, to generate and disseminate knowledge for the delivery of evidence-based approaches to cancer control, to plan and implement interventions for the prevention, early detection, treatment and care of cancer, to establish broad networks of cancer control partners at both local and global levels, to improve quality of care for cancer patients and to transfer best practice interventions of cancer care to developing countries.

Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer is the most common type of cancer. There are many sub-types of skin cancers which include:

Basal cell carcinomaBasal cell carcinoma: This is the most common type of skin cancer. Around 8 out 10 skin cancers are caused by cancer in the basal cell layer. The cancer usually develops on areas that are exposed to the sun and generally include the head and the neck. This type of cancer grows slowly and does not spread to other parts of the body. However, if left untreated, the cancer can invade the bone or other tissues beneath the skin.  The cancer has to be removed completely otherwise it can recur in the same area. Also, many patients of this type of cancer are more likely to get the cancer in other places.

MelanomaMelanoma: This is the most serious type of skin cancer and develops in the melanocytes. This cancer can also form in the eyes and in rare cases can affect internal organs such as the intestines.  Melanoma is less common than basal and squamous cell cancers but is more dangerous. If left untreated, it can grow and spread.  People over the age of 40, especially women, are at a greater risk of developing melanoma. Early diagnosis and treatment can help improve patient survival.

kaposisKaposi’s Sarcoma: This is a type of cancer that causes the development of abnormal tissue under the skin, in the lining of the mouth, nose, throat and other organs. These patches of tissue are generally red or purple and contain cancer cells and blood cells. This cancer can spread to the digestive tract or lungs and can also cause bleeding. Tumors in the lung for example can make it difficult for patients to breathe.  The cancer can spread very quickly in patients with HIV/AIDS.

urothelial_carcinoma-high-grade-bladder-4-ub005-4Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This is another common form of skin cancer that occurs in the squamous cells of the outer layer of the skin. Around 2 out of 10 skin cancers are squamous cell cancers. This type of cancer is generally not life-threatening but if left untreated, it can grow and spread to other parts of the body and can cause serious complications. The cancer is usually caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Since squamous cells can be found in many places on the body, this cancer can occur anywhere but mostly affects areas that are more exposed to the sun including the face, ears, neck, lips and the back of the hands. Although not very common, squamous cancer can sometimes affect the deeper layers of the skin and can spread to other parts of the body.