Tag: cancer

Nearly halfway through Movember

We’re nearly halfway through Movember, the month we grow our moustache in order to raise awareness about men’s health. I am in Amsterdam, for a congress and this was the hardest day of the month so far: since 8am, nearly every single person I met said it didn’t look good. And this can be harsh when you talk with (potential) business partners! However, practically, when you have time, this is an unique opportunity to initiate discussions with others about prostate cancer.

So this is a plea to make it worth! Please donate to prostate cancer research via my profile page: http://mobro.co/jepoirrier. Belgian men lives on average 5 years less than Belgian women. Belgium has the 4th highest cancer rate for men diagnosed in 2012 worldwide. Survival rates are however good but together we can do better!

Still want to see how it looks like so far? Here you see I will soon need to use wax, scissors and all sorts of precision instruments to tame it 😉

Movember moustache Jean-Etienne Poirrier

And if you are still not convinced, here is a short interview of professor Swinnen, from KUL (in Belgium), about his research and how Movember is helping his team:

And again, donate to a good cause! Many thanks in advance for your help!

The state of non communicable diseases

Last week, United Nations gathered in New York, USA, to talk about prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Non-communicable diseases are non-infectious, of long duration and generally progressing slowly. Due to the fact they are not infectious, there is no pathogen to target and there is no transmission medium to fight. Due to their long duration and slow progression, one usually notices NCDs when it’s too late and eradicating NCDs is less spectacular than other (not less important) infectious diseases. However WHO measured that NCDs represents more than 60% of all deaths in the world. For the occasion, WHO released an introductory video that summarize the issue.

So there are 4 main non-communicable diseases:

  1. Cardiovascular diseases
  2. Diabetes (both of them represent 70% of deaths by NCDs)
  3. Cancers (~ 20% of deaths by NCDs)
  4. Chronic respiratory diseases (~ 10% of deaths by NCDs)

NCDs are not directly in the UN Millenium Development Goals but I already mentioned they represent 4 of the top 5 killers in the USA. Two of them are also in the top 5 killers worldwide. If the Millenium Goals succeed, non-communicable diseases will be the next big issue in health.

Although NCDs were considered as a disease limited to high income countries (with infectious diseases affecting low income countries), this is not really the case anymore. For instance, the map of male deaths due to cardiovascular diseases and diabetes in 2008 shows an approximately uniform rate in high income countries with some higher rates in low income countries (especially on the African continent).

World : Cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, death rates per 100 000 population, age standardized: Males, 2008
WHO World : Cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, death rates per 100 000 population, age standardized: Males, 2008

If you are looking for more numbers, visit the WHO Global Health Observatory on Noncommunicable diseases.

If nothing is done, the incidence of NCDs will increase. On top of being a health issue, a matter of life and death, it will also become an economical problem as the costs of treatment as well as the indirect costs will also dramatically increase (increase per case treated and increase due to the number of cases treated).

Incident cases and cost of diagnosed diabetes per 1,000 people
Incident cases and cost of diagnosed diabetes per 1,000 people (adapted from Boyle et al. 2010 and Alternative Futures Diabetes 2025)

If you are looking for more figures about the cost of non-communicable diseases, here are two detailed reports recently published:

In a nutshell, non-communicable diseases are everywhere and the future doesn’t look happy. However …

However risk factors are identified and many of them are related to our own lifestyle:

  • Physical inactivity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Tobacco use
  • Harmful use of alcohol

To end on a positive note, all these risk factors can be easily controlled and for a limited additional cost. For instance, governments can protect people from tobacco (taxes as well as bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, …) and alcohol (access restriction, bans on advertising, …) as well as promote public awareness about diet and physical activity. Companies can also promote healthy diet and physical activities to their employees. On top of that, the food industry can also include relevant actions in their corporate social responsibility policies. Finally on a personal level, we can increase our physical activity, increase fruit and vegetable intake, reduce our use of tobacco and alcohol, etc. Simple, cheap actions ; huge interesting consequences.

World Cancer Day

It doesn’t seem jolly but last Friday, it was the World Cancer Day. About this, the WHO set up a nice website about cancer control.

Following my previous post on Jamie Oliver and the top 15 causes of death in the USA, I started to collect similar data from other countries. Linking this to cancers, the annual statistics on cancers in Belgium can be found on the Belgian Cancer Registry. The latest numbers are however from 2006. Here are the top 15 cancers in Belgium in 2006 (all sexes and regions mixed):

Rank Classification Cancer type Cases Remark
1. C50 Breast 9556  
2. C61 Prostate 9254 male only
3. C34 Bronchus and lung 6956  
4. C18 Colon 5233  
5. C44 Malignant neoplasms of skin 3110  
6. C20 Rectum 2264  
7. C67 Bladder 1986  
8. C82-85 Non-Hodgkin-lymphom 1925  
9. C43 Malignant melanoma of skin 1572  
10. C64 Kidney 1377  
11. C16 Stomach 1356  
12. C54 Corpus uteri 1320 female only
13. C25 Pancreas 1172  
14. C80 Unknown primary site 1168  
15. C15 Oesophagus 920  

It’s interesting to note a few things:

  • These figures represent cases of cancer and not deaths by cancer. Note also that prostate cancer is in third position but only concerns males.
  • The latests data is from 2006. The website doesn’t seem to be updated since 2008 (and 2008 seems to be the year when data from 2006 are available ; if we follow the 2-years-gap logic, I guess the data from 2009 are available somewhere but not on this website)
  • Data accessibility seems to be average. Data is there in Excel format (and PDF which is pretty useless if you want to reuse the data). On one side, these Excel files can be opened by almost every office suite. On the other side, some open format would have been preferred. And some direct interaction with the data on the website is now the norm (ok, I just wrote it doesn’t seem to be updated since 2008)
  • The classification is quite good since it uses the “Classification Internationale des Maladies” which is the “International Classification of Diseases” in English better known as ICD-10 (online).