WVU cancer specialists encouraged by a drop in cancer rates
But say more progress is needed


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. –Doctors at the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center at West Virginia University are cautiously optimistic about a new report that indicates overall rates for cancer incidence and mortality have declined significantly among men and women and most racial and ethnic populations in the United States.

“It’s definitely encouraging that cancer incidence and mortality rates are continually declining,” says Jame Abraham, M.D., medical director of the Cancer Center.  “While it’s a good barometer for gauging how far medical science has come in diagnosing and treating the disease, it also accentuates the importance of keeping the momentum going to win the war against every type of cancer.” 

According to the report by leading health and cancer organizations, the drop in overall rates is due to declines in rates of new cases and rates of death for the three most common cancers in men (lung, prostate, and colorectal) and for two of the three leading cancers in women (breast and colorectal).  New diagnoses for all types of cancer combined in the United States decreased, on average, almost 1 percent per year from 1999 to 2006.  Cancer deaths decreased 1.6 percent per year from 2001 to 2006.

“This report offers much hope to those battling cancer as well as those striving to help them, be they in the clinic or a research lab,” says Scot C. Remick, M.D., director of WVU’s Cancer Center.  “Our goal at the cancer center is to continue building on that progress.  All aspects of our strategic growth are aligned with addressing the significant burden and cancer disparities in our region and the state of West Virginia.  Collaborative efforts such as the creation of a statewide clinical trials network and the Bonnie Wells Wilson Mobile Mammography Program enable us to offer the highest levels of patient care and research.”

The report was written by researchers from the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Cancer Society, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries.

Other highlights from the report show that while overall colorectal cancer rates are declining there is an increasing incidence of the disease in men and women under 50 years of age.  In a special feature section, researchers used modeling projections of colorectal cancer rates to find that with increased cancer control efforts to get more Americans to adopt more healthy lifestyles and higher use of screening, as well as more effective chemotherapy, there could be an overall colorectal cancer mortality reduction of 50 percent by 2020.

The report also found that in men, incidence rates continue to rise for kidney/renal, liver, and esophageal cancer, as well as for leukemia, myeloma and melanoma.  In women, incidence rates increased for lung, thyroid, pancreatic, bladder, and kidney cancers, as well as for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, melanoma and leukemia.

Among racial/ethnic groups, cancer death rates were highest in black men and women and lowest in Asian/Pacific Islander men and women.


For more information:
Amy Johns, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
SS: 12-10-09

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