Statistics Of Cancer: Its Causes And Effects On The Healthcare Sector

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Cancer is a serious disease that affects approximately 38.4% of Americans at some point. In many cases, it can be fatal. Read on to find out about some of the causes of cancer and its effects on the healthcare sector.

Cancer Causes Gene Mutations

Cancer is caused by DNA mutations that cause cells to stop functioning normally. Cells that are affected no longer receive proper instructions on how to grow and divide, leading to uncontrolled cell growth and DNA repair errors. The cumulative effect of these gene mutations is tumor formation.


Underlying Causes of Cancer

There are several reasons a gene mutation might occur. A small percentage of genetic mutations that cause cancer are inherited, but most occur after birth as a result of environmental conditions. Obesity, hormonal problems, chronic inflammation, and a sedentary lifestyle can all make consumers more prone to developing cancer, but the gene mutations are usually caused by cancer-causing chemicals, known as carcinogens.


Common Carcinogens

Some of the best-known carcinogens are asbestos, radon, benzene, nickel, cadmium, vinyl chloride, and benzene. Not all carcinogens are that obvious, though. To give just one example, in 2016, more than 15 million Americans were prescribed Zantac, a prescription heartburn medication that contains unacceptably high levels of ranitidine, a known carcinogen.


Complications from Cancer

Cancer and its treatment can cause serious health complications, including pain, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea or constipation, unintentional weight loss, difficulty breathing, brain and nervous system problems, unusual immune responses, chemical changes in the body and, eventually, death. To make matters worse, cancer treatments can also cause severe complications. Short-term complications include:

  • Neutropenia
  • Lymphedema
  • Hair loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cognitive problems
  • Pain
  • Tiredness
  • Blood clots


Inability to completely eradicate the cancer

For those whose cancer treatment is successful, there are also some serious long-term complications associated with common treatments like chemotherapy. They include problems with digestion, bone, joint, and soft tissue health, vision, the brain, spinal cord, and nervous system, the endocrine system, the lungs, and the heart.


Affects on the Healthcare Sector

Both current cancer patients and survivors require a good deal of specialized care. Research performed by the Agency or Healthcare Research and Quality estimates that annual spending on cancer is around $80.2 billion, not all of which is covered by patients’ health insurance policies.

Cancer survivors also require long-term care following their initial treatments. The complications caused by cancer and its treatment leave patients more prone to developing other serious health issues. Beyond the economic impact of ongoing cancer care on individuals and society, increases in hospitalizations due to serious health concerns can leave healthcare systems overburdened and patients without sufficient access to the care they need.

Cancer patients and survivors often require advanced mental health care, as well. They may experience depression, anxiety, loneliness, guilt, anger, and fear of recurrence. Unfortunately, even with adequate treatment, recurrent and secondary cancers are common, so this fear is not ungrounded.


The Bottom Line

Cancer wreaks havoc on patients’ bodies and lives, even when it is not fatal. Ever-increasing rates of incidence in the United States are also placing a strain on the healthcare sector. It’s important for Americans to know about potential carcinogens and what they can do to avoid them and reduce their cancer risks. Manufacturers should be held accountable if their medications, food products, or other goods contain known carcinogens.

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