Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Reason for Thanks: Cancer Rates, Deaths Drop

Here’s something to be thankful for: a recent report suggests that the rate of new cancer diagnoses and deaths related to the disease have dropped for the first time.

Overall cancer death rates have been dropping recently, but this is the first time researchers have noted that the number of new cases fell as well. Cancer rates for men and women both were down, including the most common forms (lung, colorectal and prostate for men; breast and colorectal for women).

In an article on, a physician from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas noted that the results of the report could indicate that advancements in treatment, as well as increased efforts at preventing cancer and detecting it earlier through screenings, are becoming more effective.

But the fight is far from over. While the rates may have dropped overall, some types of cancer have gone up, such as liver cancer. And while preventative tactics – such as quitting smoking – and catching cancer earlier seem to be working, not everyone is able to accomplish those goals.

It’s important that people have access to and utilize screening tests such as mammograms for breast cancer, prostate exams for men, or colonoscopies to detect colon cancer. At the same time, modification of risk factors that people can control may help continue to reduce the rates of cancer across the United States.

It’s a good start. But there’s still a lot of work to do.

--Scott Samples
Public Information Coordinator

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