New Years and New York Times

Ok, so it’s been FORE. EVER. since I’ve blogged.  It’s not that I haven’t been reading… we’ve been busy and well,...  that’s a great thing.  

But alas, it’s time to get back into this.  Over the last couple of weeks, I read three different yet somewhat related articles in the New York Times that I’d like to blog about.  Like most NYTs articles, they are factual and thought provoking.  

The first:  In Developing World, Cancer Is a Very Different Disease by George Johnson, where he outlines the facts that simply, cancer is an older person's disease.  If you live long enough, you die of cancer.  But as we in the US strive for ever lasting ‘quality’ life, it’s not just age, but also wealth, that matters how long you live.  This is obviously nothing new and is only reinforced by the newer immuno-oncology therapies that are estimated to cost more annually than most peoples’ houses.  

For those with the will and the resources, the war on cancer has come to mean pushing incrementally toward some imagined immortality, the ultimate right to life. There appears to be no limit to what we — society in the abstract — will agree to pay for extending long and well-lived lives”

Even more simply the ACR now states that as life expectancies rise slowly so will cancer incidence rates.  If you live long enough, you will be diagnosed with cancer.  And here’s the actual numbers for the US;  the median age for all cancer diagnoses is 66 while 78% of all cancer diagnosis happen after age 55.  It’s no surprise that the average life expectancy of third world countries is younger than that.  

IARC put a great visual on the data here:  IARC fact sheets - cancer. Please take some time to peruse the data and make your own conclusions.  What spoke out to us at A2IDEA ? 

In third world countries where cancer diagnosis and mortality go hand in hand, the cause of cancer is infectious; think cervical carcinomas and lymphomas.  But in the West, the most prominent cancers are breast and colon.  These are the cancers that take time to accumulate the many diverse mutations and are often the hardest to target pharmacologically.  I'm sure there are other interesting environmental correlations, but I'll save that for another day.  

Happy New Year!  


Applied Bioinformaticians