Cancer Epidemiology – Cancer Statistics

Although the class does not start until the end of June. We did meet briefly last week to discuss a few administrative issues and a brief overview lecture on cancer statistics. I am just going to highlight some of the key points from each slide of this lecture.

  • In 2010, cancer mortality is significant. About 600,000 people die of cancer with roughly equal numbers between men and women.
  • For both men and women, lung & bronchus cancer is the most common (26-29%) of cancers, followed by prostate (11% men) and breast (15% women), colon/rectum (9%), and pancreas (6-7%)
  • Cancer ranks second on the list of largest cause of mortality in the US, just behind heart disease.
  • The rate of cancer deaths has historically increase dramatically since the 1930s, but in more recent decades has leveled off and perhaps dropped in recent years.
  • Men and women show very different profiles of cancer rates over time by type of cancer. For example, rates of lung cancer has been in decline for men, but increasing or plateauing for women.

  • By race, African-Americans in both sexes show higher mortality rates due to cancer.
  • For African-American men, death rates for specific cancers may be as much as twice the rate as white men (2x for prostate, 1.3x for lung). African-American women are also higher than white women, though the disparity is not quite so prominent.
  • For cancer incidence, prostate and breast cancers are the most common, followed by lung, colon, and urinary/uterine.
  • Incidence rates over time have been relatively stable, though there is a small uptick during the 1990s for men, possibly due to better prostate cancer screening.
  • Again, African-American men are more likely to get cancer.
  • For lifetime probability of getting cancer, the overall odds in men is 1 in 2, 1 in 6 for prostate, 1 in 13 for lung, and 1 in 19 for colon. For women, overall is 1 in 3, 1 in 8 for breast, 1 in 16 for lung, and 1 in 20 for colon.
  • Breast and prostate cancer have the highest survival rates (90% and 100%), while pancreatic and lung cancer have the lowest (6% and 16%)
  • Among children, leukemia and brain cancer is the most common (5% and 3%) with the highest mortality.
  • Modifiable factors, such as tobacco smoking, consumption of fruits & vegetables, and obesity may affect cancer risk.
  • Screening such as yearly mammograms for breast cancer, examinations for cervical cancer, and pap smear tests are important tools for the early detection of cancer in women.

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