Cancer death rates
The American Cancer Society recently announced data that showed a continuing decrease in cancer deaths in the United States. Death rates have been dropping, on average, by more than one percent per year since 1993, and by two percent the past few years, according to researchers. In the U.S., one percent means 5,000 lives saved. Researchers attributed the improvement in survival to mundane improvements in prevention, early detection and treatment and pointed in particular to decreased smoking and increased use of screening tests such as mammograms and colonscopies. Unfortunately, the data also shows that poverty, lower education levels, lack of insurance or access to medical care have resulted in higher cancer rates for some insular groups, including Native Americans.
Cancer remains the second-leading cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease. A 2002 study that linked breast cancer to the use of hormone therapy after menopause and resulted in a significant reduction in hormone therapy is considered to have resulted in a signficant reduction in the incidence of breast cancer. Lung, liver and esophageal cancers are still occurring at a higher rate than previously, among select populations.
The spokespersons commenting on the data emphasized the impact of available health insurance in the fight against cancer. The one most common denominator separating good outcomes from bad outcomes appears to be the availability and affordability of standard screening methods.