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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More