U.S. Cancer Deaths Down 20 Percent Over Last Two Decades

According to a new American Cancer Society (ACS) report, fewer people are dying from cancer.


A Brief History of The War on Cancer

We’ve been fighting the war on cancer for forty years and although there has been a decrease in U.S. cancer deaths, the global burden of cancer has doubled over the last three decades [1]. Indeed, the leading cause of death in the world today is cancer, followed by heart disease and stroke [2,3]. Cancer also has the greatest economic impact from premature death and disability of all causes of death worldwide, costing $895 billion in 2008 [3]. That number is just the cost of loss of productivity; it doesn’t include the direct costs of treating cancer.

Panel Calls for Reducing Colorectal Cancer Deaths by Striking Down Barriers to Screening

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Despite evidence and guidelines supporting the value of screening for this disease, rates of screening for colorectal cancer are consistently lower than those for other types of cancer, particularly breast and cervical. Although the screening rates in the target population of adults over age 50, have increased from 20-30 percent in 1997 to nearly 55 percent in 2008 – the rates are still too low. An NIH state-of-the-science panel was convened this week to identify ways to further increase the use and quality of colorectal cancer screening in the United States.

“We recognize that some may find colorectal cancer screening tests to be unpleasant and time-consuming. However, we also know that recommended screening strategies reduce colorectal cancer deaths,” said Dr. Donald Steinwachs, panel chair, and professor and director of the Health Services Research and Development Center at the Johns Hopkins University. “We need to find ways to encourage more people to get these important tests.”

The panel found that the most important factors associated with being screened are having insurance coverage and access to a regular health care provider. Their recommendations highlighted the need to remove out-of-pocket costs for screening tests.