Cancer Deaths – Declining Trend?
Posted on January 18, 2007 Comments (7)
The news was cause for celebration among doctors and politicians. “When we saw the first decline, the number wasn’t that enormous,” Dr. Felice Schnoll-Sussman, a cancer physician at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center said. “But once you start to see a trend like this, it obviously makes you feel like ‘We must be doing something right! ‘”
Is this really a trend? I have not examined the data at all but I seriously doubt it. People (the media even more so) constantly overreact to variation in data. Maybe I am wrong, certainly I should look at the data and see what it says – and I will if I get some time and remember. But I am more confident in my belief this is more overreaction to random variation than in the headlines. Why? Because so often when I do look more closely at the numbers my general observation of overreaction to random variation is confirmed while news reports talk of “trends.” Hopefully I am wrong this time.
Ok, I couldn’t resist and I did a little looking for some data. This is how crazy it is. The press release from the American Cancer Society states:
In 2004, there were 553,888 deaths from cancer, compared to 556,902 in 2003.
Ok, that tells you the magnitude of this decline – just over .5%. Ok, that isn’t so crazy, John you curious cat, you might say to yourself. How about this, from the same press release?
That is a higher number than 2004. What about the real and profound trend?
2007 data from the American Cancer Society
Yes good work is being done to combat cancer. But I sure wish the articles would do a better job of painting a real picture and not talking a fake trends (granted that is just my opinion of what a trend is versus many many others ideas based on the articles they published). The ACS 2007 data report has quite a few interesting charts.