American Cancer Society report details cancer prevention efforts

April 22, 2008

An annual report from the American Cancer Society highlights that long-term favorable trends have stalled for several factors that have been responsible for declining cancer death rates in the U.S. The report, Cancer Prevention & Early Detection Facts and Figures 2008 (CPED), points out that drops in smoking appear to have leveled off and that mammography rates have been stable or slightly declining since 2000 after increasing for more than a decade. Although rates of colorectal cancer screening are increasing, these life-saving tests are still not reaching a substantial part of the population. The report also notes the role of access to care, pointing out that individuals without health insurance are much less likely to receive mammography and colorectal cancer screening than those with health insurance and are more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage of cancer, when treatment is more expensive and survival rates are much lower.

"Earlier this year, we reported that death rates from cancer in the United States have dropped by 18.4 percent among men and 10.5 percent among women since mortality rates began to decline in the early 1990s, translating into more than half a million cancer deaths avoided in the United States," said Otis W. Brawley, MD, national chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. "If we want these gains to continue, we need comprehensive, systematic efforts to reduce tobacco use, to address the epidemic levels of obesity in this country, and to make sure all Americans have access to and receive established cancer screening tests."

CPED, published annually since 1992, is the most comprehensive annual report on factors that affect cancer risk, including behavior and early detection. It details the challenges and opportunities in preventing cancer and cancer death, and outlines lifestyle changes and medical care changes that have the potential to prevent about half of cancer deaths. Below are highlights from this year's report.

Tobacco
Early Detection
Obesity and Overweight
Nutrition and Physical Activity
UV radiation and protection behaviors
The report notes that, despite stalls in some favorable trends, marked progress has been achieved by some high priority advocacy efforts. At the time of publication, twenty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico had implemented or enacted statewide smoking bans that prohibit smoking in workplaces, and/or restaurants and/or bars, and 2,791 municipalities had passed some form of smoke-free legislation (Iowa became the thirtieth state to enact a statewide smoking ban earlier this month). The rate of colorectal cancer screening has increased in part due to expanded coverage by Medicare and private health insurance. These changes came about as a direct result of advocacy efforts, including legislation enacted in 22 states and the District of Columbia to ensure that private health insurance plans cover the full range of colorectal cancer screening tests.

"Last April, President George W. Bush signed into law legislation to reauthorize and expand the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (H.R. 1132), which included increased funding targets over the next five years," said Dr. Brawley. "These and other efforts must continue in order to continue the decline in cancer death rates overall and make sure that the benefits of early detection and treatment are available to all members of the population."
-end-
The full report can be viewed by visiting the American Cancer Society Web site at www.cancer.org/statistics.

About the American Cancer Society The American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by saving lives, diminishing suffering and preventing cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. Founded in 1913 and with national headquarters in Atlanta, the Society has 13 regional Divisions and local offices in 3,400 communities, involving millions of volunteers across the United States. For more information anytime, call toll free 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.

American Cancer Society

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