Wednesday, January 17, 2007

More Cancer Stories

CNN continues its fine online reporting on cancer today with an article stating that cancer deaths in the United States have dropped for the second straight year, an accomplishment the network says confirms "that a corner has been turned in the war on cancer."

The drop from 2002 to 2003 was the first annual decrease in total cancer deaths since 1930. But the decline was slight, and experts were hesitant to say whether it was a cause for celebration or just a statistical fluke. The trend seems to be real, Cancer Society officials said.

"It's not only continuing. The decrease in the second year is much larger," said Ahmedin Jemal, a researcher at the organization.

Cancer deaths dropped to 553,888 in 2004, down from 556,902 in 2003 and 557,271 in 2002, the Cancer Society found....

I'll take good news where I can find it, but I wonder whether a two-year drop of 3,383 out of 1,114,173 (or 0.3%) really is statistically significant. Also, my sense is less that "a corner has been turned" than that cancer treatment, detection, and public education and awareness have all incrementally improved to the point that they can now just barely keep up. Still, that's something I suppose.

I can't immediately find numbers for the years cited above, but the American Cancer Society estimates that 1,445,000 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2007. Let's round off and say 1.5 million diagnoses versus half a million deaths: one out of three. Although odds of survival vary greatly with the type of cancer, an overall two-out-of-three chance is a lot better than it used to be. Still, my idea of "turning a corner" is when those odds become three out of four, four out of five, five out of six, and better.

I'm not a physician--I don't even play one in the comics--but I really don't think it'll take much longer to achieve that. There's some amazing stuff on the horizon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that they state cancer rates have dropped. Could it be that drugs that cause cancer in premenopausal women have been removed from the market thus lowering the rate of new cancer? That other drugs & additives like DEA, BHT, BHA & others that cause cancer have been in the news & the reluctance or discontinuation of these meds & products have actually turned the stats? Its not chemo or other toxic meds that only lower cancer but education. Consumers are using organic products. Manufacturers & retailers now see it as a money maker to go organic so they are not selling us a possible cancer diagnosis.