Cancer is a collection of diseases that begin as old or damaged cells start to divide and spread into surrounding tissues where they are not needed anywhere in the human body. When this happens they form growths called tumors. Malignant tumors can grow cancer cells, spread and travel to different places in the body and form new tumors.
There are over a hundred types of cancer, each usually named for the tissues or organs where they form ( breast, liver, pancreatic) or the type of cell that formed them (carcinoma, leukemia). The most common cancers in women are skin and breast, while prostate cancer is the most common in men. Cancer is a genetic disease which can be inherited from parents, caused by errors as cells divide or damaged DNA. Damaged DNA can be caused by environmental exposure such as radiation or tobacco smoke.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, second to heart disease. The survival rate has increased due to advancement in treatment, early intervention and diagnosis in some cancers. This also varies in cancer type, stage and age of diagnosis. It is estimated that there will be approximately 1,806,590 new cancer cases and 606,520 cancer deaths will occur in the United States this year.
Because every cancer and every patient is different there are a number of different treatment options with different goals. Some therapies may cure the cancer while others, depending on the stage, may slow it’s growth. These treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, stem cell or bone marrow transplant, and hormone therapy.
A percentage of cancer can be cured or prevented including cancer caused by tobacco, excess body weight, alcohol consumption, poor nutrition and physical inactivity. Research shows that even though it is not possible to know why some people develop cancer and others don’t, there are certain factors that can be avoided to minimize the risk. These risk factors include exposure to chemicals and other substances, and even certain behaviors. Factors that cannot be avoided are family history or age. For example: cancer is more common in people over 55 years old. The most commonly diagnosed cancers in men are lung, bronchial, and colorectal cancer. In women, the most common are breast, lung and colorectal cancer.
Cancer brings direct costs such as therapy, surgery, medicine, hospital and doctor visits as well as indirect costs like treatment not covered by your insurance plan, deductibles, co-pay, co-insurance and maximum cap. In addition to costs not covered by health insurance there are the indirect costs, significant to the patient and family. Some of these costs include: job loss, childcare, disability, transportation, mental health services, etc. Patients without health insurance have to pay for their entire treatment and all the additional costs.
While cancer treatment can cost somewhere between $120,000 to over $200,000, with the right insurance agency you could pay as little as $10,000. Putting your trust in the right agency can help you take care of everything, from the cost of an early diagnosis, treatment and even protect your family.
American Cancer Society- Cancer Statistics 2020