“We’re all doomed”: cancer in numbers

napoleon-profileStatistics are a nettled garden at the best of times but, as I am fund-raising for Cancer Research this month, I am going to throw this one at you just to see if you catch, juggle or drop.

It is especially intriguing if you are planning to meet up with a bunch of friends in the pub later on.

According to the American Hospital Association, one in three people in the world will suffer from a form of cancer during their lifetime. One in four will die from it.

In 2011, Macmillan Cancer Support suggested that four in ten people in the UK would contract the disease.

One in four. I am married with two children; under the regis of the American stats one of us will die from cancer.

Go to a football match in England and there’s a crowd of 40,000 – the stats suggest that 16,000 of them will contract cancer as will eight of the players that start the match.

If you are in the pub, look around your group and play the guessing game. One in four, four from ten…Tough, isn’t it. Nobody wants cancer but nobody wants it on their friends either. Unfortunately that will happen.

Here’s another stat, this one from the International Agency for Research on Cancer – an estimated 7.6 million deaths from cancer occurred worldwide in 2008 (the most recent figures available).

Lung, stomach, liver, colorectal and female breast cancers were the most common causes, accounting for more than half of all cancer deaths.

On top of that happy little factoid, here’s another: an estimated 12.7 million new cancer cases were diagnosed worldwide in 2008.

Again, lung, female breast, colorectal and stomach cancers were the most commonly diagnosed, accounting for more than 40 percent of all cases.

“We’re all doomed,” insists Private Frazer. “But we’ll give the blinking cancer a run for its money, anyhoo.”

We all know people who have had cancer, many of whom will have succumbed. I think of my aunt Angela, my old mate Peter Robinson, one of the best cricket journalists I ever came across, and more recently the former England captain Tony Greig and  Christopher Martin-Jenkins, another man who knew one end of a cricket bat from another.

Then there are those that have battled against it, successfully so far although cancer is such a sneaky bastard you never know when or how it might return.  The crime writer Paul Johnston is one of those. He has engaged in close-fought combat three times and come up smiling (in a slightly Scottish Private Frazer “we’re all doomed’ kind of a way). But more of Paul later.

This snake in paradise – that is the cancer, incidentally, and not Paul – is a fact of life for us. Perhaps it was always thus but in the past the medical profession didn’t pinpoint the problem as cancer.

Advances have certainly been made in the diagnosis – crucially the early diagnosis – of cancer and in the treatment of cancer. But it remains a disturbingly virulent disease that can hit young and old, men and women, fit and unfit alike.

And as the statistics show, while it might happen to someone else, it is likely to happen to someone very close to you. Or you. Or me.

There are many individuals raising money for charities that are fighting the battle against cancer on our behalf. We all rely on them; for it is our futures and the futures of those we love that hang in the balance.

support-me-profileI am trying to raise some cash for Cancer Research by giving up alcohol – a major contributant to certain strains of cancer – for the month of January.

It is almost over and I admit I am looking forward to a glass of something bubbly to toast my grand-niece who was born midway through the month; with all the best will in the world alcohol-free malt Kronenburg just doesn’t do the job.

Help me reach my target and make this month worthwhile, not for me, but the thousands and millions of people who are either fighting their own battles against cancer or will be soon. Do it for your friends; do it for your family; do it for you.

Here endeth the lesson.

You can sponsor me by clicking on this Just Giving link and following the instructions. It is very simple and secure. And if you are in the UK, then your donation will also qualify for a bit of tax credit cashback which also goes to Cancer Research.

In my next blog you can read about how crime writer Paul Johnston has fought off three attacks of cancer.