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Could Cancer Deaths Really Be Eliminated for People Under the Age of 80 by 2050?

Published on 17 March 2016 back to previous

Cancer. It's potentially the scariest diagnosis a person can receive from their doctor, but it's something roughly 14 million people around the world will hear this year, according to the World Health Organization. In a little less than two decades, the number of annual cancer diagnoses is expected to rise to 22 million.

Within the United States, based on 2015 data from the American Cancer Society's Facts and Figures Report, 1.66 million people were expected to be diagnosed with cancer, with another 589,430 dying from the disease. Cancer now trails only heart disease as the leading cause of death in the U.S., and it's expected to take the dubious top spot in the coming years.

Researchers' optimistic cancer forecast

As researchers from University College London (UCL) and King's College London noted this past July, everything is a matter of perspective. Growing incidence rates might suggest a glass-half-empty approach, but these researchers actually believe we're getting a stranglehold on cancer. In fact, they're so confident, they believe deaths from cancer will be "eliminated" for all persons under the age of 80 by 2050 in the U.K., with only those in "late old age" dying from cancer.

David Taylor, the emeritus professor of pharmaceutical and public health policy at UCL, had this to say:

What makes this a special point in history, is that cancers are in the process of becoming either preventable or effectively curable.

The proof has been in the pudding for Taylor and his colleagues, who can point to a drop in death rates from the most common forms of cancer by around a third from just 20 years prior. While researchers cautioned that no "magic bullet" was around the corner to rid the world of cancer, they did list five factors that have allowed for significant headway against oncological diseases over the past couple of decades, and that could lead to the elimination of cancer in persons under age 80 by 2050.

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