A good friend has just lost his wife, only 37, to cancer. The case is doubly heartbreaking because they had been married just 14 months and each thought they had finally found happiness. Positive stats about cancer declining and becoming more manageable are abstract comfort to the individuals - and their loved ones - for whom cancer is still a death sentence. In fact, my friend probably sees the timing of the latest "good news" as cruel irony - at least I would.
The American Cancer Society, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries just released a report:
- More Americans are surviving cancer for five years or more and cancer rates overall are steadily declining, according to the latest annual report on cancer in the United States issued on Thursday.
....Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease. This year 1.368 million Americans will learn they have cancer and 563,700 will die of it.
The "Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2001" finds that cancer rates dropped 0.5 percent per year from 1991 to 2001, while death rates from all cancers combined dropped 1.1 percent per year from 1993 to 2001.
This is due to better prevention, screening that catches cancer early enough to treat it and better therapies.
Among women, lung cancer rates have been steadily increasing as rates among men fell, because women started smoking later than men did and started quitting later, too.
But the statistics show that between 1975 and 2001 the number of lung cancer cases diagnosed in women fell by 0.2 percent.
....The joint report compares five-year survival rates of cancer patients diagnosed between 1975 and 1979 to those diagnosed between 1995 and 2000.
Ten percent gains in cancer survival rates were seen for men in cancers of the prostate, colon and kidney, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, melanoma, and leukemia.
Women made 10 percent survival gains in colon, kidney, and breast cancers and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
But the report found that patients with the most deadly forms such as lung, pancreatic or liver cancers were only a little more likely to survive. [Reuters]
Incidence and death rates of various forms of cancer are here.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology is currently meeting in NYC - the NY Times has a report:
- Brett Smith, the father of two young children, was only 26 three years ago when he was found to have advanced melanoma, a deadly skin cancer. Several drugs failed to stop the cancer, while leaving him frail, depleted and ill.