Cancer diagnoses, deaths on the decline

Cancer diagnoses, deaths on the decline

Today’s news of a significant decline in rates of new cancer diagnoses and rates of death from all cancers combined does not mean we will be any less vigilant in our mission to prevent and cure cancer, says Arizona Cancer Center Director David S. Alberts, MD.

“This is a greatly welcomed announcement concerning the continued drop in both cancer incidences and death rates. Literally, millions of hours of research, education and training have gone into this continuing success in the reduction of our huge cancer burden,” Dr. Alberts said.

“Unfortunately, more than 550,000 cancer deaths are expected in the U.S. in 2010. This would be equivalent to three 747 airplanes filled with cancer patients crashing every day of the year. We have a lot more work to do,” Dr. Alberts said.

Cancer researchers predict that by 2020, with increased screenings and personal behavioral changes, colon cancer death rates could drop by 50 percent. Researchers said improved treatment for colorectal cancer, increased use of screening, such as colonoscopies, and quitting smoking would play a key role in the death-rate reduction.

According to the report – authored by researchers from the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health and other institutions which are engaged in cancer research – new diagnoses for all types of cancer combined in the United States decreased, on average, almost 1 percent per year from 1999 to 2006. Cancer deaths decreased 1.6 percent per year from 2001 to 2006. The report was published online in the journal “Cancer.”

A cancer-prevention expert, Dr. Alberts said there still is no substitute for prevention – most easily accomplished by diet, exercise and behavior.

“While it seems simplistic, staying out of the refrigerator, or not snacking but eating a healthy diet (high in fruit and vegetables and low in red meat), getting up off the couch and going for a 30 minute walk every day, and quitting smoking are ways to immediately reduce your risk of cancer,” Dr. Alberts said.

According to the report, overall cancer rates continue to be higher for men than for women, but men experienced the greatest declines in new cases of cancer and in death rates.

Other findings include:

  • In men, incidences rates have declined for cancers of the prostate, lung, oral cavity, stomach, brain, colon and rectum, but continue to rise for kidney/renal, liver and esophageal cancer, as well as for leukemia, myeloma and melanoma.
  • In women, incidence rates decreased for breast, colorectal, uterine, ovarian, cervical and oral cavity cancers but increased for lung, thyroid, pancreatic, bladder and kidney cancers, as well as for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, melanoma and leukemia.
  • Among racial/ethnic groups, cancer deaths were highest in black men and women and lowest in Asian/Pacific Islander men and women.

The three leading causes of cancer death for all men, with the exception of Asian/Pacific Islanders, were lung, prostate and colorectal cancer. Lung, liver and colorectal cancers were the top three causes of cancer death in Asian/Pacific Islander men.

For women, the three leading causes of cancer death were lung, breast and colorectal cancer for all racial/ethnic groups, except Hispanic women, for whom breast cancer ranked first.

Read the full release here: