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June 17th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

Cancer deaths down but disparities still exist

The overall cancer death rate declined between 1990 and 2007, according to the latest statistics by the American Cancer Society.  However, the report finds disparities still exist among socioeconomic and racial groups.

The statistics suggest an individual's education level plays a role. In 2007, premature cancer death rates among the least educated were more than double those of the most educated people. The authors suggest 37%, or 60,370 of these deaths (in people aged 25 to 64) could have been prevented.

"We need to apply what we know to avert unnecessary deaths from cancer," said Elizabeth Ward, National Vice President for Intramural Research at the American Cancer Society and co-author of the report.

"We need to make sure that all populations and communities have access to this life-saving information. At the same time, we need to continue to do research because we don't have all the answers yet."

Researchers say the decrease in cancer rates amounts to about 898,000 cases between 1990 and 2007. The numbers are compiled and estimates are made from data from the National Cancer Institute, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries and the National Center for Health Statistics.

"There's a lot of social implication when someone dies prematurely," Ward said. "These are people who are often employed, economically productive, parenting children, so the ramification of someone dying of cancer in this age group are very significant for their families and for society. It really is important from a social point of view if we can intervene to prevent these unnecessary deaths."

"We're using education as one of the measures of socioeconomic status – many factors about health differ by socioeconomic status, and this data shows that cancer is one of them," Ward said. "People who have a lower level of education are, in general, more likely to be poor, more likely to not have health insurance and more likely to live in environments where there's less access to healthy foods and safe opportunities for physical activity."

She also added that more educated people are less likely to smoke.

Ward suggested to really have the biggest impact on the population, both educational and racial disparities need to be reduced.

"If we eliminated both educational and racial disparities....what we're seeing is we can eliminate 43% of cancer deaths in men and 30% in women," she said.

The American Cancer Society estimates 1,596,670 new cancer cases this year; they project an estimated 571,950 deaths from cancer will occur. In men, cancer of the prostate, lung and colon/rectum are expected to be the most common among new cases.

In women, the three most common new cancers are expected to be of the breast, lung and colon/rectum. Lung cancer is expected to claim the most lives in both sexes, followed by prostate in men and breast cancer in women. Third in both sexes is colon/rectal cancer. However, lung cancer death rates in women are now on the decline.

The death rate estimate for this year is the equivalent of more than 1,500 deaths per day. The probability of being diagnosed with an invasive cancer over a lifetime is 44% for men and 38% for women.

"It's important for each person to realize that there are things that they can do for themselves to reduce their risk," Ward added.

She said strategies for men and women include avoiding tobacco products and maintaining a healthy weight through diet and physically activity.


soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Bobby

    I would like to see banning pesticides for green lawns.. there's got to be "Green" ways to keep your lawn lookin pretty.. One way is to harvest your Dandylions and use them in salad..

    June 17, 2011 at 14:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dr.Mullick

      Dr.OZ is one who would agree with you.But he found out about his PRE CANCEROUS Polyp during Colonoscopy last year.
      The sure way to avoid Colon Cancer is to get Colonoscopy.
      Please see http://www.getyourrearingear.com or Larry King's video on CNN

      June 17, 2011 at 14:23 | Report abuse |
    • cancer reduction?

      There is no way to avoid colon cancer. It either happens or it doesn't. The only thing a colonoscopy will do is let you know if you have it or not so you may decide on how to proceed.

      The biggest impact on reducing chance of developing cancer to to avoid all tobacco products from the beginning. Using sunscreen or protective clothing helps with skin cancer. As for the rest, it's a crapshoot. Live your life and enjoy it. When your time comes, accept it gracefully and move on. After all, when someone 25-65 dies for any reason, another job opening just appeared. We all die. Get over it.

      June 17, 2011 at 17:38 | Report abuse |
    • goo6er

      To "cancer reduction?" Of course you can prevent cancer. Removing a PRE-cancerous growth will halt its progression to cancer.

      June 17, 2011 at 23:11 | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Another important factor is that patients ARE NOT given the properreferrals to save their or their loved ones lives!!!!!!
      My wife was diagnosed with glioblastoma 2 years ago.
      In a small hospital setting the doctor when asked said that all oncologist would do the same protocol, the same standard of treatment and that she may as well stay in that local system for her treatment.
      In other words stay in his and his co workers network.
      I almost listened except for the fact that a co-worker of mine had, had a brain tumor and told us that there were centers of excellence which could do much more for my wife than they could in the local setting.
      had I not had this first hand information, I would not have known.
      i took my wife to MD Anderson and found that the surgeon back home left over 80% of the tumor in my wifes head.
      They took the rest out and gve my wife a better chance at least.
      Doctors should be held to the same intefrity standards as military officers when it comes to honesty and honorable intentions.
      What would the survivability rates be if all victims of tghis terible disease were given the right information when doctors are directly asked?
      How many would live longer with their loved ones if integrity issues were mandated in patient care when it comes to considering whether to issue advise based on the patients welfare rather than the "networks" bottom line?

      June 18, 2011 at 17:00 | Report abuse |
    • Bane

      Colonoscopy does prevent colon cancer! The point of colonoscopy screening is to identify if there are polyps and if so remove them. Polyps are not cancer, but with time many (5-50% depending on the type) them will become colon cancer. So, of someone gets screened regularly, it should prevent them from ever getting an actual colon cancer. But,nothing is perfect...it's possible for the colonoscopist to miss a polyp for a variety of reasons, which may then become a cancer, despite the person having been on regular screening. Or, rarely, a person may develope a polyp faster than usual which then turns into a cancer faster than usual as well with both events occuring within the interval between 2 colonscopy procedures, also resulting in the screening program failing to prevent a cancer in that individual. But these types of failures are rare. Usually those who get colon cancer have not been screened, or haven't been getting them done on time for some reason, and may have missed one or more.
      I wanted to point that out for the folks who perpetuate misinformation. Screening for the cancers for which it is recommended (breast, colon, cervix) does PREVENT cancer and DOES save lived, but they are certainly not perfect – all people and all technology are falable ...lucklily in these cases those failures are uncommon if guidelines are followed, but that doesn't make it any less tragic when such failures occur....

      June 19, 2011 at 02:26 | Report abuse |
    • Bane

      To the fell

      June 19, 2011 at 02:32 | Report abuse |
  2. Dr.Mullick

    25% of people over 50 have PRE CANCEROUS POLYPS–see Larry King's interview with Dr.OZ on CNN
    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tS5eR0917ts&w=640&h=360]
    Dr.OZ had no family history,in great health–but was shocked to discover that he had PRE-Cancerous Polyp–that was removed by Dr.LaPook.
    Education is not the issue. Oprah Winfrey at 58 has not had Colonoscopy.President Obama went for CT which is not as good as Colonoscopy.There is a 7-10% chance that he has a Polyp. He could have trusted Joe Biden for 3-4 hours during his Colonoscopy and be 99% sure that he has NO Pre Cancerous Polyp.
    http://www.getyourrearingear.com and http://www.mullickmd.com talk about Early Detection and a have Sad and Glad stories of people with Pre Cancerous Polyps.
    50,000 COLON CANCER Deaths are UNNECESSARY.

    June 17, 2011 at 14:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Margaret Louk

      It is easy to say get a colonoscopy, but without insurance it is almost impossible. I have been waiting until I qualify for Medicare, but our congress wants to take that away. Our state just cut another 150,000 adults without children from our medicaid, and eliminated help for the medically indigent. They are not taking new people no matter what is wrong with them. I have a feeling in the future the numbers of deaths from all these diseases are going to rise.

      June 19, 2011 at 09:13 | Report abuse |
  3. Dr.Mullick

    http://www.getyourrearingear.com has stories about Colon Cancer and http://www.foxriver5k.org has story about a 15 year old kid with Chron's–but he is now helping others-including himself.
    Colon Cancer is avoidable.

    June 17, 2011 at 14:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Dr.Mullick

    I agree with the statement that 37% of deaths or 60,370 deaths could have been prevented.
    Most of these preventable deaths are for COLON CANCER. Thru early COLONOSCOPY Pre Cancerous polyps can be removed and Colon Cancer deaths of 40,000-50,000 avoided.
    Oprah Winfrey–you are educated-Please get Colonoscopy and like Dr.OZ or Katie Couric-have it televised.
    Mr.President Obama or Mrs Michelle Obama–Set a good Example-Get a Colonoscopy and let the world know that is a easy procedure.

    June 17, 2011 at 14:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Dr.Mullick

    Dr. Otis Brawley did a good job of explaining Lung Cancer causes and deaths.Poverty issue is always used by all to explain anything. But what about COLON CANCER?
    Do you think Oprah Winfrey is poor and has not had Colonoscopy so far for 58 years because she can not afford it?
    Larry King did a good job in interviewing Dr.OZ on CNN (video available).The issue is DENIAL and laziness.Medicare covers it–but people ignore it.How many get Colon Cancer screening–less than 60%?
    Insurance is an excuse.
    Dr.Brawley as well as Randi Kaye should have done a better job on COLON CANCER SCREENING.
    Randi–Please invite Dr.OZ to your show and interview him on CANCER reducing ways.

    June 17, 2011 at 15:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Jay

    A lot has to do with public education, look at breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer, three big ones that have been widely talked about in Canada at least and the rates have reduced. Bottom line is that it will never be eradicated, it's not a virus or a bacteria and we can't think of it in such a way.
    On another note, the world of cancer research is a sad place today with the passing of Betty Fox.

    June 17, 2011 at 16:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. charles s

    Of all the cancers, colon cancer can be easily treated if caught early. A Colonoscopy is unpleasant but nothing like what happens when part of your colon must be removed. Unfortunately most cancer treatments are effective only when cancer is caught early. I suspect that if you have ever smoked, then you will probably have PRE CANCEROUS Polyps. The lungs constantly produces fluids to clean the lung. This fluid moves into the stomach and passes through the colon. Even after a person stop smoking, this carcinogenic material continues to pass through the colon for year. Everyone of my friends who have ever smoked has had PRE CANCEROUS Polyps.

    June 17, 2011 at 16:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ailementary canal

      Charles baby, get an anatomy book. The lungs aren't conected to the stomach. The only way for lung material to enter the stomach is for someone to cough up a big, slimy lugey and swallow it down. Ever watch a smoker? They like to spit all over sidewalks. They even throw their nasty cigarette butts down on the ground as if they weren't litter. Cigarette toxins enter the body through the lungs and go into the blood for systemic distribution. The liver really takes care of most of that. Colon cancer is mostly genetic risk that lowers the threshold for transformation such that ordinary environmental factors eventually trigger it. Fact is, all people breed now, no longer just the healthy ones. That's one of the biggest problems. Who breeds the most? The uneducated ones who also like doing things like smoking. Go figure.

      June 17, 2011 at 17:47 | Report abuse |
  8. mary m

    Why is there no mention of access to care? When you can't afford medical insurance or have a $4800 deductible it's easy to put off a doctor visit because you can't afford it. Early diagnosis is so important, but for many people it's difficult to pay for.

    June 18, 2011 at 10:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • AGuest9

      @mary m, You are so correct.

      Medical negligence and malpractice are both ignored, also. Wow – some doctor lost his license. My mother lost her life due to his stupidity.

      June 18, 2011 at 11:00 | Report abuse |
  9. Richard

    Google d3 + cancer. ACS won't talk about the scores of 5 and 10 year formal studies that have shown 70% reduction in breast, lung and colo-rectal cancer - if the sheeple know they can prevent cancer with d3, ACS will dry up and blow away, along with the chemotherapy drugs that cost six figures for treatment. Men, google "johns hopkins" + sulphoraphane. Smokers, google b6 +lung cancer (and maybe add l-methionine and folate acid). You don't have to get cancer because of disinformation from the media and ACS.

    June 18, 2011 at 23:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Bane

    To the fellow whose wife had GBM two years ago...I am sorry that you and your family were struck with the horrible tragedy of a loved one being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.... Few life events are more difficult for a family to contend with.
    But, to be honest, what you were told by the local doctor is not far from the truth in most GBM cases. There are few treatment options proven to improve survival (modestly), and none proven to cure it. Although you are correct in that there are a few factors that are said to improve ones odds, like having a more extensive surgical resection, or the addition of concurrent temadol chemotherapy, the truth is although these features are, on average, associated with longer survival, the absolute magnitude of the differences are small, and the vast majority of people with GBM don't survive longer than 12-20 months...and those who benefit from a more extensive surgery, even if they love longer, must have this benefit balanced against the added morbidity suffered by the more extensive resection...At the end of the day, that local doctors statement may not have been far from the mark. The disease is treated almost the same everywhere, and no matter what treatment is given, the overwhelming majority fare poorly. Only a lucky few percent do well with this disease, and that's probably more to do with luck and biology more than anything doctors do!

    June 19, 2011 at 02:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. bob

    Please read The Spirit Level. There is plenty of evidence that wealth dispariy leads to increased all cause mortality. As for colon cancer it can be prevented by avoiding red meat. The fact that Dr. Oz had it has no bearing on anything as there are always statistical outliers in anything you want to talk about.

    June 19, 2011 at 09:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Robert

    Yes, I have understood the statistics for a long time.
    But there is another statistic that I just can't let go.
    And that is the difference between removal of 20% of a tumor and after our own efforts at finding help, the removal of 100% of a tumor.
    The first surgeon, a very capapble one who just dosen't have the technology at his disposal knew that difference from the start.
    But we were just another statistic..just one "bleeder" that he had to deal with from the emergency room.
    We had to do our own research and this should be a wake up call to both caregivers and those whose advice is trusted in the consultation rooms across this country.
    As a former military oficer whose word was his deed and that responsibility taken very seriously..I find a problem with this.
    The morbidity problem you mention however is real as well, for my wife was also diagnosed with radiation necrosis 12 months after her last radiation treatment and it is terrible the damage that has done aside from the tumor itself.

    June 19, 2011 at 09:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. tom

    You can talk until the end of time. You just can't make some people understand or care enough to be motivated. Anyone with a tv has knowledge right there with constant PSA's.

    June 19, 2011 at 10:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Trish

    Hey guys, will you visit HelpFaye.ORG a friend of mine is fighting for her life.... Thank you..

    June 19, 2011 at 16:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Mimi Avery

    Georgiann,
    I lost my 4 yo son to brain cancer a couple of years ago. What about the children? Could you put together a similar study to see if the cases and deaths in children by cancer are down??? Sure doesnt feel that way...

    June 19, 2011 at 23:21 | Report abuse | Reply
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    November 30, 2011 at 20:15 | Report abuse | Reply
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