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  Tuesday January 27th, 2015    

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Report finds historic drop in total number of cancer deaths (02/15/2006)
The American Cancer Society's annual estimate of cancer deaths says 2006 will see a slight decline in the projected number of cancer deaths compared to estimates made for 2005.

The projections are based on a decline in the actual number of cancer deaths reported by the National Center for Health Statistics for 2002 (557,271 deaths) and 2003 (556,902 deaths), the first decline in the actual number of cancer deaths in more than 70 years.

From 2002 to 2003, the number of recorded cancer deaths decreased by 778 in men, but increased by 409 in women, resulting in a net decrease of 369 total cancer deaths, the first such decrease since 1930 when nationwide data began to be compiled. The decrease in the number of Americans dying from cancer is a result of declining cancer death rates outpacing the impact of growth and aging of the population.

Death rates adjust for the size and age of the population. The death rate from all cancers combined has decreased in the United States since 1991, but not until 2003 was the decrease large enough to outpace the growth and aging of the population and reduce the actual number of cancer deaths. While it is unclear whether the decline in the total number of cancer deaths will continue, it marks a notable milestone in the battle against cancer. The estimates are included in the 55th edition of Cancer Facts & Figures, which projects that in 2006, approximately 1.4 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer and 565,000 will die of the disease.

"The drop in the actual number of cancer deaths in 2003 and in our own projections for 2006 mark a remarkable turn in our decades-long fight to eliminate cancer as a major health threat," said John R. Seffrin, PhD, American Cancer Society chief executive officer. "For years, we've proudly pointed to dropping cancer death rates even as a growing and aging population meant more actual deaths. Now, for the first time, the advances we've made in prevention, early detection, and treatment are outpacing even the population factors that in some ways obscured that success."

Highlights, including Minnesota estimates, from this year's publication include:

*In 2006, the five most commonly diagnosed cancers in Minnesota are expected to be prostate (4,200), female breast cancer (3,070), lung (2,610), colon (2,400) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (1,060).

*The five leading causes of cancer deaths in

Minnesota in 2006 are expected to be lung (2,430), colon (890), female breast (590), pancreas (550) and prostate (490).

*In 2006, an estimated 1,399,790 new cancer cases and 564,830 deaths from cancer in the U.S. are expected. In Minnesota, 23,520 people are expected to be diagnosed with the disease and approximately 9,490 will die.

*Incidence and death rates from lung cancer continue to decrease in men. Among women the lung cancer incidence rate has leveled off but death rates continue to increase. Lung cancer remains the top cause of cancer death in the U.S, with an estimated 174,470 new cases and 162,460 deaths expected this year. In Minnesota, 2,610, will be diagnosed and 2,430 will die.

*Kentucky has the highest lung cancer death rate in the U.S. Expected lung cancer deaths in Kentucky in 2006 (3,500) rival that of Massachusetts (3,790), a state with more than 50 percent more residents

*Breast cancer remains the most common cancer other than skin cancer among women in the U.S., with an estimated 212,920 new cases and 40,970 deaths expected in 2006. Despite increasing incidence, the death rate from breast cancer continues to fall. In Minnesota, 3,070 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and an estimated 590 will die.

*Prostate cancer is the most common cancer other than skin cancer among men in the U.S., with an estimated 234,460 new cases and 27,350 deaths expected in 2006. Although death rates have decreased since the early 1990s, rates in African American men remain more than twice as high as rates in white men. In 2006, about 4,200 Minnesota men will be diagnosed

with prostate cancer and approximately 490 will die.

Since 1952, when the first edition of the publication consisted of four typewritten pages, Cancer Facts & Figures has become a critical tool for scientists and journalists reporting on cancer trends. The annual estimates of new cancer cases and deaths are some of the most widely quoted cancer statistics in the world. The Society's leading team of epidemiologic researchers compiles and analyzes incidence and mortality data from around the country to estimate the number of new cancer cases and deaths for the current year nationwide and in individual states.

Environmental pollutants

Each year, Cancer Facts & Figures features a Special Section highlighting a particular aspect of cancer prevention, early detection or treatment. Tobacco, obesity, and infectious causes of cancer have been discussed in recent years. In 2006, the Special Section considers environmental pollutants (particularly air pollutants) and cancer. While exposure to pollutants is thought to account for a relatively small percentage of cancer deaths -- about four percent from occupational exposures and two percent from environmental pollutants (manmade and naturally occurring) -- the topic is of considerable public interest and an ongoing scientific challenge. Even a small percentage (sixpercent) can represent many deaths, approximately 33,900 in the U.S.

Much of what is known about air contaminants and cancer comes from occupational studies of workers who were highly exposed in the past and can be clearly identified and followed for long periods of time. The Special Section provides information about two air pollutants that pose potential risk to the general public: asbestos and radon. Asbestos causes lung cancer, mesothelioma and possibly other cancers, while radon causes lung cancer. Asbestos products remain in most buildings constructed from 1930 to 1975, and can present a danger during renovations or demolition. Radon has been shown to cause lung cancer in miners exposed to very high concentrations and is present at lower concentrations in the indoor air, generally basement, of most homes. Radon has been estimated to cause between 10 and 14 percent of lung cancer deaths in the U.S.

Secondhand tobacco smoke is an important indoor air contaminant known to increase cancer risk. Cigarette smoke contains many carcinogens. For example, it is a major source of population exposure to benzene, a leukemia-causing substance also present in gasoline fumes and automobile exhaust.

The article also describes the major sources and types of outdoor air pollution and details the major categories of air pollutants. Sources include vehicles, factories, fossil fuel-burning power plants, incinerators, recycling facilities and metal smelting plants, as well as natural sources, such as windblown dust and wildfires. Exposure to fine particulates, a type of air pollution often present in urban air, has been linked with lung cancer and there is even stronger evidence of increased heart and lung disease associated with exposure. The report recognizes progress in reducing air pollution and the importance that such progress be sustained.

The full report can be viewed after embargo at www.cancer.org/statistics.

Great American Health Check (SM)

Cancers that can be prevented or detected early by following the Society's testing guidelines account for approximately one-half of all new cancer cases in the U.S. Scientific evidence suggests that about half of the cancer deaths expected in the U. S. will be related to tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and being overweight or obese. The Great American Health Check is an easy, confidential, online health assessment tool available year-round at www.cancer.org/healthcheck to raise national awareness of early cancer detection tests and the benefits of following a healthy lifestyle. Users can go on line and answer questions, either for themselves or a loved one. They then receive a personalized cancer action plan that includes early cancer detection tests they may need, as well as recommendations for healthy lifestyle changes.

Cancer information specialists are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the American Cancer Society's toll-free call center, 1-800-ACS-2345, to receive mailed information on the Great American Health Check and specific cancer screenings.

The American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by saving lives, diminishing suffering and preventing cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. Founded in 1913 and with national headquarters in Atlanta, the Society has 13 regional Divisions and local offices in 3,400 communities, involving millions of volunteers across the United States. For more information anytime, call toll free 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.

*U.S. Census Bureau estimated July 2005 populations: Kentucky 4,173,405; Massachusetts 6,398,743 


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