Bright Spots of 2008
Article date: January 6, 2009
Bad news has a terrible tendency to drown out good news. Given the number of negative headlines in 2008 -- from the tanking stock market to the increasing unemployment rate -- you may have ended the year with a case of "crisis fatigue."
While times are tough, they are most certainly not all bad. In fact, the last few months of 2008 brought a rash of positive developments in the fight against cancer. For one, The Annual Report to the Nation, which came out just before Thanksgiving, showed that both cancer death rates and cancer incidence rates have dropped for the first time on record. Another report indicates fewer Americans are smoking. Still another found that colorectal cancer rates are falling.
Here are 5 stories -- mostly good news, each and every one -- you may have missed. Here's to hoping 2009 brings more of their kind.
Both cancer death rates and cancer incidence rates are dropping, according to The Annual Report to the Nation, a joint report by the American Cancer Society, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACR). This is the first time in the 10-year history of the report that the cancer incidence rate has dropped.
According to the report, the decline in the cancer incidence rate was largely due to declines in the rates of the most common cancers: lung, colorectal, and prostate cancer for men and breast and colorectal cancer for women. The drop may be a sign that prevention and early detection efforts are having an impact. However, experts also caution that it could mean fewer people are getting screened. The declining cancer death rate, though, is definitely cause for celebration. Read the full story here.
A new initiative by the Social Security Administration (SSA), called Compassionate Allowances, announced this fall, will help seriously ill people get their disability benefits sooner. The new program covers 50 conditions, including 25 cancers, that are so serious that they obviously meet the standards required for the Social Security Administration to make a finding that the person is disabled.
The initiative will provide much-needed financial help -- much more quickly -- to many people with cancer who cannot work because of their illness, said Daniel E. Smith, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action NetworkSM (ACS CAN), the non-profit, nonpartisan sister organization of the American Cancer Society. ACS and ACS CAN worked with Social Security to develop the program. Read the full story here.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that fewer Americans are lighting up -- a sign that tobacco control efforts like taxation and legislation may be working. According to the CDC, there were 43.4 million current smokers in the U.S. (19.8%) in 2007 -- a one percent decline from the 20.8% in 2006.
Cigarette smoking accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths, and it's a major cause of heart disease, emphysema, and stroke. Quitting smoking substantially reduces the risk of these diseases, and the sooner people quit, the better it is for their health. Read the full story here.
More people are getting screened for colorectal cancer, according to a data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While the increase is small and isn't seen across all populations, the report shows encouraging progress in the fight against a cancer that's largely curable when caught early, and can even be prevented in some cases.
Another report found that since 1998, colorectal cancer incidence rates have been declining rapidly, and survival rates have steadily improved. Between the mid-1970s and 1996-2004, the 5-year survival rate increased from 51% to 65%, according to the report. There's a caveat, though: the graphs show a widening survival gap between whites and various minority groups. Read the full story here.
"Cancer is a growing pandemic – and an enemy that no single organization, or nation for that matter, can defeat alone. It will take collaborative efforts such as this unprecedented gathering here today and determined action from our nation's leaders if we are to make real and lasting progress in the worldwide fight against cancer," said John R. Seffrin, PhD, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society. Read more here.
Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff
ACS News Center stories are provided as a source of cancer-related news and are not intended to be used as press releases.
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