Using the American Cancer Society s SEER database (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) as well as reports produced by the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR), and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the CDC and the ACS jointly issued yesterday the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2011.
Rather than poring through the entire lengthy document, one might glean the key data from this summary, basically a slide show which presents the facts and figures in easily accessible format. And these facts include: an ongoing trend in major declines in cancer deaths on all fronts, thanks to improvements in diagnosis and treatments, including immune-based therapies (often personalized), regular chemotherapy but with less toxicity and more targeted focus, and more sophisticated imaging and surgery.
But the real story lies in the incidence figures: declining cancer rates in both genders (more so in men, thanks to the more rapid decline in smoking) overall. Some cancer rates did increase notably thyroid and liver/biliary cancers but given the increasing age of our population, the fears of a cancer epidemic due to any number of hypothetical carcinogens in our foods, chemicals, pesticides, flame-retardants, consumer and personal care products have been proven to be bogus, fear-mongering by activist special interest groups and politicians trying to lead us to safety.
ACSH s Dr. Gil Ross had this comment: The reasons for the uptick in liver cancer are likely due to the hidden epidemic of hepatitis C among baby boomers who used needles or other mechanisms to penetrate their bodies defenses for recreational drug use back in the 60s and 70s. Only now, decades later, are the sad fruits of that misbehavior becoming apparent. And fortunately, thyroid cancers are among the least dangerous. Overall, the message of this new report is that the war on cancer is not won, not even close, and will never be; but some progress is being made and will likely accelerate over the next few decades.