News / Health

US Rates Drop, But Cancer Remains Nation's Second Largest Killer

As population ages, half of men and one-third of women at risk

Seventy-five percent of cancers occur in adults 55 years or older.
Seventy-five percent of cancers occur in adults 55 years or older.

Multimedia

Audio
Rosanne Skirble

Despite advances in prevention, diagnosis and treatment, cancer remains the second-leading cause of death in the United States. The disease - in all its forms - struck 1.5 million Americans last year, killing 560,000. These trends are reported in a special issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, entirely devoted to cancer research.

Progress on Cancer Front

The good news is that progress against cancer has been made on many fronts, says Susan Gapstur, vice president of Epidemiology at the American Cancer Society and co-author of a commentary in the journal. She says mortality rates in the United States peaked for men in 1990 and for women in 1991. Mortality rates have come down by about 21 percent and 12 percent in women.

About 40 percent of the decrease for men resulted from the decline in lung cancer death. Gapstur credits the reduction in cigarette smoking, sparked by education campaigns, smoke-free laws, taxes and social policies for that. She says great strides have also been made in early detection for a number of other cancers.

 

"Our best success has been in pap smear, for the detection of cervical changes before actually the occurrence of cancer," says Gapstur. "Also colorectal cancer screening [is] another very important tool that can detect changes in the colon prior to the incurrence of the cancer."

These tests, along with mammography for breast cancer, help detect cancers at very early stages and increase chances of survival.

Age and Risk

Seventy-five percent of cancers occur among adults 55 years or older. Gapstur notes that as the number of older Americans has increased, so has the lifetime risk of cancer, to one-in-every-two men and one-in-every-three women.

One article in the journal reports that while older adults are less likely to receive chemotherapy following colon surgery, they tolerate it better than younger patients and don't get as sick from the therapy. Journal editor Catherine

DeAngelis says another article describes the high success rate of tumor control for a new form of radiation for inoperable lung cancer. "That's a preliminary communication, meaning we don't quite know the answer yet, but boy it looks like we are on to something big," says DeAngelis.

The targeted therapy controlled tumor growth for three years in 98 percent of the lung cancer patients.

War Continues

DeAngelis says while 11 million Americans alive today have either survived or are going through treatment, the war on cancer is far from over.

She says that's in part because the disease, in all its various biological forms, is so complicated. "There's a commonality to cancer as a disease entity, but the organ it attacks makes it quite different, and the way it presents and the way it acts and the way it needs to be treated. I think that's part of the frustration."

DeAngelis says the strategy going forward must be to fight the battle on many fronts, building on the lessons learned from research, detection and treatment.  Susan Gaspstur with the American Cancer society adds that to get the numbers down,"It is essential that we continue to advocate for access to preventation for all and dissemination of what we know about prevention."

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid