Here's an interesting article I just stumbled upon that leads to some interesting discussion. The main idea is that US cancer death rates are on the decline, but those most vulnerable (ie, the Uninsured and Underinsured) are achieving fewer cure rates due to limited resources. Putting the political "health care for all' debate aside, I had some thoughts on the simple fact that cancer death rates are declining.
First, this article highlights decreasing DEATH rates in the US, NOT (a) incidence or (b) prevelance rates [(a) the number of new cases of cancer diagnosed divided by the total population in a given amount of time, usually per year; and (b) the number of total cancer cases (anyone with an active cancer diagnosis) divided by the total population in a given amount of time (also, usually a year)]. This is an important distinction because it highlights the advantage of multiple preventive medicine themes: 1) early detection and 2) early treatment.
We now have the knowledge and tools to detect it earlier and treat it earlier.
According to CDC (Center for Disease Control) statistics (SEER data), some forms of cancer (including lung, breast and colon cancer) are on the decline in terms of new cases, Kidney cancer and melanoma cases are definitely on the rise, however. One caveat though, the decline in the aforementioned cancers does not, in general, apply to many minorities and other vulnerable populations, ie, children, elderly and the un/under-insured.
Given the fact that cancer is occurring more frequently among certain populations and remains at very high rates among the majority of the population, I'd like you all to consider what it would be like to actually HAVE cancer. First imagine the stress of being diagnosed, the stress of multiple doctor visits, biopsies and blood work. Then, consider the stress of being told multiple opinions in regards to treatment and then finally, consider the actual treatment - being painfully poked and prodded for venous access, having a to take a pill every day or sit through long IV chemo infusions or radiation sessions. And then, the waiting, praying and hoping, all while you could have been enjoying your life! Not to mention, the medical bills that pile up and days of nausea, vomiting, pain, extreme fatigue and hair loss, etc. Very inconvenient!!! In addition, many of these effects can be long lasting depending on the drugs or radiation doses used.
Now imagine a world with less cancer, less stress and more happiness. This is the world that Preventive Medicine specialists such as myself are trying to achieve. But we need YOUR HELP! Read up on your products and use ones that are paraben and phalate-free, get to the gym 150 minutes per week, eat more fruits and veggies that contain natural anti-cancer vitamins and minerals, buy organic, use less pollution-causing fossil fuels, write or call your Congressperson and GET INVOLVED! Don't wait for the government or private industry to clean up this mess. Do something NOW!
This is YOUR HEALTH and YOUR LIFE and unfortunately, you only get one! Please help us change the current carcinogenic lifestyle we live in. Not only will you be doing good things for others, but you'll also help yourself...and that in itself, makes it all worth it.
Here's the article that stemmed this blog entry:
NPR: US Cancer Death Rates Decline, But Disparities Persist Published: June 17, 2011 by National Public Radio (US)
by Scott Hensley
The rate at which Americans die from cancer continues to fall, according to the latest estimates from the American Cancer Society. As a result, nearly 900,000 cancer deaths were avoided between 1990 and 2007, the group figures. Survival gains have come as mortality rates have declined for some of the most common malignancies, including colorectal cancer, breast cancer in women and prostate cancer.
Still, the ACS estimates there will nearly 1.6 million new cancers diagnosed this year, and about 572,000 deaths from the disease. The incidence of cancers hasn't budged much for men in recent years, after falling quite a bit during the first half of the last decade. Cancer incidence for women has been falling since 1998.
Lung cancer remains the biggest killer for both men and women. All told, about 160,000 people in the U.S. are expected to die from it this year. Starting in 1987, more women have died from lung cancer each year than breast cancer.
One section of the report focuses on a persistent and, in some cases, widening gap in cancer death rates between people with the least education and those with the most. Educational attainment is often used in research as a proxy for socioeconomic status.
American Cancer Society epidemiologist Elizabeth Ward, one of the report's authors, tells Shots, "People of a lower socioeconomic status are more likely to smoke and less likely to get access to care where they can get screened for early detection."
Then there's issue of health coverage, which can make a big difference in treatment. "People with higher income jobs usually work for employers who offer better insurance," Ward says.
The report was just published online by CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
Have a great weekend!
Dr. Maltz earned a Medical Degree and Master in Public Health from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, TX. She completed a combined Internal and Preventive Medicine Residency at UTMB in June, 2011. She then completed a 2-year Integrative Medicine Fellowship at Stamford Hospital in Stamford, CT, during which she simultaneously underwent an intensive 1000-hour curriculum created by The University of Arizona Integrative Medicine Program founded by Dr. Andrew Weil.