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
TEXT SIZE - +
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 Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid