Numbers are how we measure things. In business they say you have to know your numbers – what is the bottom line? In sports, the final score indicates who the winning or losing team is. In health, the numbers indicate if the disease is growing, if treatments are working, or if we are on the right path.
The American Cancer Society recently released some encouraging statistics for the year 2016-2017. There was a 2.2 percent dropin cancer rates, the largest single-year drop ever recorded. For the past 26 years the decline has been steady.
These results are great news to start the new year with, in the mesothelioma community and for all of us. Malignant pleural mesothelioma, the most common type of mesothelioma, is a cancer of the lining of the lung. The leading cause of death from cancer is a diagnosis of lung cancer.
There are many factors that contribute to progress continually being made. Funding support, scientific research, and patients willing to participate in clinical trials are just a few of the factors.
More than numbers and statistics, this report represents the increasing number of people that are living with cancer. It was not so long ago that receiving a cancer diagnosis was thought of as a death sentence, but not now. Treatments have improved, quality of life has improved, and more people are living longer with a cancer diagnosis.
Numbers do not tell the story of the people and families that are affected by cancer. We are very fortunate as we have seen first hand that some people are living longer with malignant mesothelioma. Not all are yet, unfortunately. They are people with names and families. They all have a story to tell and experiences to share. There are survivors that are out as long as 18 years. They are living and thriving. They are the stories behind the statistics. When they were diagnosed they looked at the statistics, and could not have known that their lives would not have ended six months from diagnosis.
As we go forward in 2020, with this encouraging report, we all hope that this will be the year that the numbers continue to go down even further.