While cancer continues to be one of the most common killers, the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer has some very encouraging information. Today, Americans are 20% less likely to die of cancer than they were about 20 years ago.
The American Cancer Society report says that cancer-related deaths dropped from 215.1 deaths per 100,000 people in 1991 to 173.1 deaths per 100,000 in 2009. For men, the cancer risk decreased by 1.8% each year, and women’s risk dropped by 1.4%. For children between the ages of 0 and 14, the risk dropped by 1.8%.
Some of the reasons behind the declines include earlier diagnosis, better screening and treatment, and of course a decline in the number of Americans who smoke.
The report also showed that deaths from lung, colon, breast, and prostate cancers – the four most common types – all declined by 30% or more, which is expected to be a result of declines in smoking as well.
Unfortunately, there are still some types of cancers that have increased. For women, new cases of thyroid, pancreatic, melanoma, kidney, uterine, and liver cancers all increased, along with leukemia. Some of the main causes of these cancers are a lack of physical activity and excess weight. Rectal and colon cancers have also increased along with obesity rates. Nearly two-thirds of adults and one-third of children in America are obese, which is one reason why heart disease and cancer continue to be two of the most common killers.
It is very encouraging to see cancer on the decline, which does go to show the importance of regular screenings and wellness visits, eating healthy, getting regular exercise, and staying far, far away from the cigarettes. I am also interested to see how cancer rates are affected as nations enhance clean energy initiatives and begin to shy away from fossil fuels. Do you think cleaner air will have a serious impact on these numbers as well?
Image CC licensed by Ross Murray