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NCI Releases Report on Nation’s Progress Against Cancer

NCI Releases Report on Nation’s Progress Against Cancer

BETHESDA, Maryland—The National Cancer Institute’s Cancer
Progress Report 2001—a living document that the Institute will update once or
twice a year online and every few years in printed form—renders a mixed
judgment about the nation’s success in reducing the burden of cancer.

"This is a report that basically tells us how we are doing as a
nation," said Robert A. Hiatt, MD, PhD, deputy director of NCI’s Division of Cancer Control
and Population Sciences (DCCPS) and chair of the committee that assembled the
report. "The main message is a positive one. The nation is making good
progress against cancer, but trends in some areas are going in the wrong

On the plus side, the report said:

  • The rates of both new cancer cases and cancer deaths are falling
  • Some prevention behaviors have shown improvement. Adult smoking is
    down dramatically since the 1960s, although rates fell only slightly in the
    1990s. Consumption of alcohol and fat is headed down, while fruit and vegetable
    consumption is up.
  • The use of screening tests for breast, cervical, and colorectal
    cancers is increasing, although screening rates for colorectal cancer remain

In the minus column:

  • Some cancers are rising dramatically, such as cancer of the esophagus
    and melanoma. Lung cancer in women continues to rise but not as rapidly as
  • Youth smoking has been on the rise, although data show there may be a
    recent, promising decline.
  • People are doing less to protect themselves from the sun.
  • More people are overweight or obese, and physical activity is
    increasing only slightly.
  • Cancer treatment spending continues to rise along with total health
    care spending.
  • Unexplained cancer-related health disparities remain among population
    subgroups. Blacks and people with low socioeconomic status, for example, have
    the highest overall rates for both new cancers and deaths.

The data were gathered through a collaboration with other organizations,
including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, other federal health
agencies, the American Cancer Society, professional groups, and cancer

The report tracks progress in prevention, early detection, diagnosis, life
after cancer, and end of life, and where possible, compares the status of each
with the goals of Healthy People 2010, a set of 10-year objectives established
by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Using color-coded graphics, Cancer Progress 2001 shows which trends are
rising and which are falling. For example, in the Highlights’ prevention
section, the report notes a positive trend in smoking reduction among Americans
ages 18 and older. The percentage of adults smoking cigarettes dropped to 24%
in 1998 from 26% in 1992, with the target goal in 2010 set at 12%. Youth
smoking showed a negative trend, rising from 28% in 1991 to 35% in 1999, with
the 2010 goal set at 16%. More recent data, however, suggest a reversal of this


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