Friday, July 16, 2010

Good news on the cancer front (well at least in the USA)

The media tend to paint a negative picture of stuff, and as humans we seem to have an inbuilt mechanism that remembers bad stuff. Well here is some good news about cancer rates in the USA. First up we have total incidence and death rates for both male and female. The spike around 1990 is very intriguing. Take note that from mid 90's both the cancer rate and death rate are dropping.

Have a look at break down of selected cancer diagnosis rates. You can now see where the 1990 spike came from, prostrate cancers. I wonder if this was due to better detection methods picking up a backlog of prostrate issues, then the spike. Lung cancers are down in males, likely due to less smoking. Colon and rectum cancers are also down. This could be due to a improved diet - less processed meats and more fiber intake. I find it interesting that for both male and female skin cancers are increasing.

The male death rates of the same cancers as above is below, however the graph below goes to the 1930's, instead of 1975 like above. The spike in prostrate death rates is smaller than the diagnoses spike. Therefore indicating that the spike in diagnosis was due to backlog of cancers just starting ie spike caused by better detection. Again mostly good news. Cancers deaths down for lung, prostrate, colon, stomach and slight decreases for pancreas and leukemia and slight increase in liver cancer deaths.

The womens cancer rates are shown below. First note that the left scale is the same between the male and female death rates. The female death rate is significantly lower than the male death rate! The increase in lung death rate is likely due to females starting smoking later than males. Breast cancer death rates are down as are colon, uterus, stomach. Ovary and pancreas have leveled off. I find it very interesting that there is similarities between both sexes.

So the good news in summary is that cancer rates have leveled off and appear to be decreasing. Also death rates have significantly reduced over the last few decades. Very good news. There is only one assumption, that the USA statistics are reflected in your countries statistics.

Reference: Ahmedin Jemal, Rebecca Siegel, Jiaquan Xu, Elizabeth Ward, Cancer Statistics, 2010. Published Online: 7 Jul 2010

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