Cancer is a leading cause of disability and morbidity in the US, with more than 1.6 million new cases diagnosed in 2016. The treatment of cancer also significantly reduces an individual’s quality of life, as the treatments—chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation—are highly toxic and invasive. Some of the most common conditions caused by chemotherapy include neutropenia, anemia, oral mucositis, nausea and vomiting, and cachexia. Figure 1 presents the number of diagnosed incident cases of cancer with chemotherapy-induced conditions in the US in 2016 as estimated by GlobalData epidemiologists.
In the US, anemia and nausea and vomiting are the most common conditions resulting from chemotherapy treatment in cancer patients. Around 80% of cancer patients treated with chemotherapy in the US developed some degree of nausea and vomiting. If left untreated, this can severely impact the quality of life of an individual. Anemia, the reduction of healthy red blood cells able to carry oxygen in the body, occurs in more than 89% of patients treated with chemotherapy and can cause or exacerbate the general malaise of an individual. Anemia is also systematically undertreated in cancer patients. Additionally, 40% of chemotherapy-treated patients develop neutropenia, a significant reduction of white blood cells in the body; 50% develop oral mucositis, which can cause ulceration of the mouth and make it difficult to eat or drink; and 30% develop cachexia, also known as general wasting.
All of these conditions significantly impact the feeling of wellness an individual has, especially in an already difficult time. These conditions may also have an impact on the ability of the person to continue treatments. Under diagnosis also remains a problem for some of these conditions and is something that can lead to better outcomes if improved upon.