Cancer Can Kill: But Rates Are Declining

Harold Mandel's picture
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Cancer can be a lethal disease, but thanks to aggressive efforts at prevention and treatments over the years rates of cancer are decreasing. There has been a growing awareness of lifestyle factors, nutritional factors, and environmental factors, aside from just genetic factors, which influence the chances for getting cancer. And more aggressive cancer screening has made earlier and more effective intervention possible. More substantial education and press coverage of these issues
seems to be having a positive impact on rates of getting cancer and on cancer death rates.

The rate of cancer deaths has been declining across the United States among men and women, reports the American Cancer Society. The cancer rates have been lower among all major racial and ethnic groups, and for the most common types of cancer, which include lung, colon, breast, and prostate. The Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer shows that the death rate from all cancers combined has been continuing a decline which first began in the early 1990s. This report is created by the American Cancer Society, the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Cancer Institute.

During the years from 2001 through 2010, death rates from all cancers together decreased on the average of 1.8 percent per year among men and 1.4 percent per year among women. The death rates from cancer among children decreased by 2 percent per year. Between 2001 and 2010 the rate of new cancer cases decreased by an average 0.6 percent per year among men. The rate of new cancer cases stayed the same for women between 2001 and 2010. However, for kids 14 years old and younger, the rate of new cancer cases increased by 0.8 percent.

Between 2006 and 2010 the highest rates of new cancer cases and cancer death rates were seen among black men. The leading causes of cancer death among men in just about every racial and ethnic group were lung, prostate, and colon cancer. The leading causes of cancer death were lung, breast, and colon cancer for most groups of women. Death rates for lung cancer have been dropping for both men and women. Less people smoking appears to explain this finding. It appears the rates of death from colon cancer have been declining largely due to improvements in the use of colon cancer screening.

Breast cancer rates have increased among black women between 2001 and 2010. The rates for breast cancer have stayed the same for all other racial and ethnic groups. Breast cancer death rates have declined for most groups. From 2001 through 2010 the rate of new cases of some cancers increased in men from 2001 through 2010. These cancers included:

1: Pancreas

2: Kidney

3: Thyroid

4: Liver

5: Melanoma of the skin

6: Myeloma

7: Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

During the same period there were increases in the rate of the following cancers in women:

1: Thyroid

2: Melanoma of the skin

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3: Kidney

4: Pancreas

5: Liver

6: Uterus

Primary risk factors for some of these cancer types are noted to be excess weight and lack of physical activity. There are many foods that may cause cancer, reports EmaxHealth reporter Deborah Mitchell.

This year's report includes a special feature section which evaluates the impact of other diseases, which are called comorbidities, on surviving lung, colon, breast, or prostate cancer. The report investigates how comorbidities affect the likelihood that a patient will die from their cancer or another cause. This depends on factors which include severity of the disease, the type and stage of cancer, and age.

Among cancer patients the most common non-cancer conditions were:

1: Diabetes

2: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

3: Congestive heart failure

4: Cerebrovascular disease

People suffering from lung cancer were found to be the most likely to have comorbidities, with the most common being COPD. Men suffering from prostate cancer and women suffering from breast cancer were less likely than people with colon or lung cancer to have a comorbidity. Among women suffering from breast cancer, those who were diagnosed at an early stage were found to be much more likely to die from a cause other than cancer. However, in women who were diagnosed with breast cancer at a late stage, about 69 percent or more died from cancer within 5 years after the diagnosis.

In both men and women suffering from colon cancer, about 7 percent to 26 percent of those diagnosed at an early stage died from their cancer in comparison with 25 percent to 44 percent who were diagnosed at a later stage, with greater than 80 percent of those diagnosed at the latest stages. Overall it was found that survival and the likelihood of dying from non-cancer causes were strongly associated to cormorbidity level and age in all but the latest stages of cancer. The affect which comorbidities had on the likelihood of both cancer and non-cancer death was found to be less for lung cancer than for other cancers, due to the fact that lung cancer has a relatively poor prognosis even among people who are diagnosed at an early stage.

Lung cancer death rates have continued to fall, helping to drive a decrease in overall cancer death rates, writes the National Cancer Institute. Death rates for lung cancer, which accounts for greater than one in four cancer deaths, has been dropping at a faster pace than in previous years. It has been highlighted that the recent increased drop in lung cancer deaths is likely to be the result of decreased cigarette smoking prevalence over the course of many years. This is now being reflected in mortality trends. Decreases in death rates for all cancer types combined is a trend which began about 20 years ago. This decline has been driven largely by decreases in death rates for colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer death rates.

It has been my observation that aggressive advertising and education about cancer is vital to keep people informed about how to best cope with cancer. I have written in another article for EmaxHealth that internet use may help you prevent cancer. The expansive media coverage of the devastating impact of AIDs on the society sometimes makes it appear that cancer is not a problem which needs to be taken as seriously. However, cancer can still kill and therefore it remains imperative not to let your guard down in dealing with cancer, regardless of what other serious illnesses such as AIDs also warrant concern.

Although oncologists will generally take the position that a pure approach to natural interventions for the treatment of cancer may very well lower your chances for survival, an awareness of these natural interventions appears to be very helpful in lowering rates of cancer to begin with. And if cancer strikes, it appears any good oncologist would suggest a complementary approach to increase your chances of a cure. A complementary approach includes both orthodox and alternative forms of treatment.

(Image courtesy of hyena reality/Freedigitalphotos.net)

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