Sepsis Is Killing More People than Cancer, Finds Study

    “They’re seeing a tremendous burden of sepsis.”


    A new study, published Thursday in the journal Lancet, has found that more and more people are dying of sepsis than cancer, with at least 1 in 5 deaths globally is caused by sepsis.

    Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Washington schools of medicine estimated that there were nearly 49 million cases of sepsis, of which 11 million died, in 2017.

    The findings suggested that more than 20 percent of deaths across the world were related to sepsis.

    The researchers took a much closer look and analyzed over 109 million death records and trends between 1990 and 2017 using the records of people hospitalized with sepsis and people who were not treated in a hospital.

    Sepsis is a life-threatening medical emergency. It is the body’s extreme response to an infection, according to the CDC. It happens when an infection in your body triggers a chain reaction, causing blood poisoning. With inadequate treatment, sepsis could lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and eventually death.

    The researchers said more than 85 percent of sepsis cases in 2017 were found in countries with low to middle sociodemographic states. They also found that 40 percent of all sepsis cases occurred in children below 5.

    Lead study author Dr. Kristina Rudd said, “What our colleagues who live and work in those settings have been saying for decades is that clinically every single day, they’re seeing a tremendous burden of sepsis. So I think finally we have data to put to that experience of colleagues. And indeed, they were right.”

    According to the most recent CDC report, it is estimated that sepsis affects approximately 1.5 million Americans every year, causing more than 250,000 deaths.

    The CDC says, “1 in 3 patients who die in a hospital have sepsis.”

    However, the study has shown that there have been major reductions in the number of sepsis cases since 1990. And the death rate from sepsis has dropped by nearly half across the world.