National Institutes of Health: Overall Cancer Rates Continue to Decline

National Institutes of Health: Overall Cancer Rates Continue to Decline

According to the recently-released National Cancer Institute annual report, featured in the journal Cancer, cancer diagnosis rates have fallen by an average of 1 percent each year from 1999 to 2006.

Better news?  Cancer mortality rates also declined between 2001 and 2006, which according to Barry Meisenberg, M.D., medical director of the AAMC Geaton and Joann DeCesaris Cancer Institute, can be attributed to a combination of factors: a steady drop in tobacco use, benefits of screening efforts, the widespread use of more effective treatments given after surgery, known as adjuvant therapies.  In addition, a reduction in post-menopausal hormone use has also contributed to a drop in the incidence of breast cancer.

According to an official statement by the National Institutes of Health, “Rates of new diagnoses and rates of death from all cancers combined [to decline] significantly in the most recent time period for men and women overall and for most racial and ethnic populations in the United States.”

The annual report – based on data through the year 2006 (the last year figures are available) showed cancer death rates from lung, prostate and colorectal cancer all declined in men.  Deaths attributed to breast and colorectal cancers in women also fell.

“The very substantial reduction in colon and rectal cancer deaths, demonstrated in the most recent data, shows the great effect that screening exams can have on patients, in conjunction with effective surgical methods and , surgery and the latest post-surgical treatment options,” said Dr. Meisenberg.  “It is a time to re-double our efforts to get more people screened for colorectal cancer with colonoscopy, the best screening tool currently available.  Breast cancer screening is also suboptimal with only 70% of eligible women participating.”

Unfortunately, some rates of cancer did increase notably kidney and liver cancers in men, and thyroid, pancreas and bladder cancers in women.  According to Dr. Meisenberg, this demonstrates that there is tremendous opportunity to do more. “The fact that not all cancers show declining mortality indicates there is still a need for more research and more science. The data is good, but not good enough.”

The AAMC Geaton and JoAnn DeCesaris Cancer Institute and its affiliated physicians have a full range of screening and treatments available in a multi-disciplinary setting. They offer clinical research programs to incorporate the latest scientific advances.  Nurse navigators, social workers, counselors and pharmacists round out the therapeutic team.  To learn more, click here.

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