Rate of Cancer Detected and Death Rates Declines

Posted on November 28, 2008  Comments (1)

Declines in Cancer Incidence and Death Rates in report from the National Cancer Institute and CDC:

“The drop in incidence seen in this year’s Annual Report is something we’ve been waiting to see for a long time,” said Otis W. Brawley, M.D., chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society (ACS). “However, we have to be somewhat cautious about how we interpret it, because changes in incidence can be caused not only by reductions in risk factors for cancer, but also by changes in screening practices. Regardless, the continuing drop in mortality is evidence once again of real progress made against cancer, reflecting real gains in prevention, early detection, and treatment.”

According to a U.S. Surgeon General’s report, cigarette smoking accounts for approximately 30 percent of all cancer deaths, with lung cancer accounting for 80 percent of the smoking-attributable cancer deaths. Other cancers caused by smoking include cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, bladder, pancreas, liver, kidney, and uterine cervix and myeloid leukemia.

Diagnoses Of Cancer Decline

The analysis found that the overall incidence of cancer began inching down in 1999, but not until the data for 2005 were analyzed was it clear that a long-term decline was underway. “The take-home message is that many of the things we’ve been telling people to do to be healthy have finally reached the point where we can say that they are working,” Brawley said. “These things are really starting to pay off.”

Brawley and others cautioned, however, that part of the reduction could be the result of fewer people getting screened for prostate and breast cancers. In addition, the rates at which many other types of cancer are being diagnosed are still increasing

Some experts said the drop was not surprising, noting that it was primarily the result of a fall in lung cancer because of declines in smoking that occurred decades ago. They criticized the ongoing focus on detecting and treating cancer and called for more focus on prevention.

“The whole cancer establishment has been focused on treatment, which has not been terribly productive,” said John C. Bailar III, who studies cancer trends at the National Academy of Sciences. “I think what people should conclude from this is we ought to be putting most of our resources where we know there has been progress, almost in spite of what we’ve done, and stop this single-minded focus on treatment.”

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Understanding the Drop in Cancer Cases

Looking at the 15 most common cancers found in men and women, researchers found that the overall cancer rate has dropped 0.8 percent per year from 1999 to 2005. Never before in the history of the annual study

“The most significant thing to talk about now is for people to stop smoking,” he said. “There’s nothing that comes close to it in terms of direct impact on cancer rates.”

The uncertainty involved with interpreting the results could make it difficult for physicians to predict whether these trends will continue in the years to come — or whether this year’s report is a one-off bit of good news. Still, most doctors remained optimistic.

One Response to “Rate of Cancer Detected and Death Rates Declines”

  1. Anonymous
    May 27th, 2010 @ 3:38 pm

    It would make sense that there is a decline in cancer due to the awareness of how smoking affects your health- However, it’s not a big enough decline and more has to be done to combat this addiction.

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