Progress Against Cancer on the Right Path: ACS Report

According to a new report released by the American Cancer Society, prevention, early detection, and interventions have worked for controlling cancer-but only for those cancer types for which these tools are available.

According to a new report released by the American Cancer Society (ACS), prevention, early detection, and interventions have worked for controlling cancer—but only for those cancer types for which these tools are available, namely lung, colorectal, breast, and prostate. Policy makers have their work carved out as far as achieving similar progress in other cancers goes.

The current paper, published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, was based on a challenge that was laid down by the Board of Directors of ACS in 1996, to reduce the peak mortality in 1990 due to cancer down to 50% by 2015. Based on the analysis by ACS, it seems half of the goal was achieved during the 25 years of the challenge period. The following numbers were reported in the paper comparing mortality in 2015 with that in 1990:

· Overall cancer death rate dropped by 26% compared with the rate in 1990 (32% lower among men and 22% lower among women).

· Among men, mortality for lung cancer dropped by 45%, for colorectal cancer by 47%, and for prostate cancer by 53%.

· Among women, mortality rates dropped by 8% for lung cancer, 44% for colorectal cancer, and 39% for breast cancer.

The authors suggest that tobacco control and progress in early detection and treatment were primarily responsible for the observed improvements.

In an associated blog post, ACS CMO, Otis W. Brawley, MD, FACP, and ACS chief cancer control officer, Richard Wender, MD, write that improving patient access to preventive services and better interventions could have a significant impact on the 2015 numbers. “More lives can be saved in the future by getting adequate high-quality care to more Americans,” they explain.

For liver cancer, for which the death rates have doubled during the 25-year period, Brawley and Wender recommend increased screening for hepatitis C infection and access to lower-cost treatments. They also recommend reducing the obesity rate in the country, which has been associated with liver cancer.

The report concludes, “All sectors of civil society will need to join in efforts to further reduce cancer mortality in the United States, including those focused on the many social determinants of cancer, including income, availability of care, and many other social and environmental factors impacting cancer-reducing policies and programs. How much more progress we will make will depend on the extent to which policy makers and the American public can join together to create systems and incentives to understand cancer better, to reduce several of the known risk factors for cancer, to better diagnose cancer earlier, and to assure that state-of-the-art treatment is available for all.”

Reference

The American Cancer Society challenge goal to reduce US cancer mortality by 50% between 1990 and 2015: results and reflections [published online May 13, 2016]. CA: A Cancer J Clin. doi:10.3322/caac.21348.