Prevention Drives Drop in Cancer Deaths

January 06, 2012


Deaths from cancer continue to decline, pushed downward by critical prevention strategies, especially  progress against smoking.  The American Cancer Society’s annual report on cancer statistics says better screening and treatment also play a role.

Reductions in lung cancer deaths among men account for 40 percent of the total decline in cancer deaths among men, the report says.  The incidence of lung cancer in men has been declining over two decades, from a high of 102 cases per 100,000 in 1984 72 per 100,000 in 2008. 

Reduced smoking is the biggest single factor.

Still, Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, says we can do better. An additional 200,000 lives could have been saved in 2008 alone if all measures to prevent, screen for and treat cancer – especially greater reductions in smoking – were taken.

Smoking causes 30 percent of all deaths from cancer. Besides causing 87 percent of lung cancer deaths, smoking causes cancers of the larynx, oral cavity, bladder, pancreas, uterus, cervix, kidney, stomach and esophagus.

Winning the fight against tobacco is a critical part of winning the fight against cancer.  We can accelerate declines in cancer by stepping up implementation of proven measures to reduce tobacco use – higher tobacco taxes, smoke-free laws, prevention and cessation programs, and effective regulation of tobacco products and marketing.