New Report on Nation’s Progress Against Cancer Released

February 1, 2002

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recently released Cancer Progress Report 2001-the first in a new series of reports designed to make scientific information on cancer more accessible and understandable. The new report describes and illustrates the nation’s progress in reducing the cancer burden across the full cancer continuum, from prevention through death.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recently released Cancer Progress Report 2001—the first in a new series of reports designed tomake scientific information on cancer more accessible and understandable. Thenew report describes and illustrates the nation’s progress in reducing thecancer burden across the full cancer continuum, from prevention through death.

"Overall, Cancer Progress Report 2001 paints a positive picture,"said Barbara Rimer, director of NCI’s Division of Cancer Control andPopulation Sciences (DCCPS). "Highlighting important cancer controlindicators, the report shows how the rates of both new cancers and cancer deathsare falling overall, due to factors such as the growing adoption ofstate-of-the-art cancer treatments, reduced cigarette smoking by adults, andincreased screenings for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers. Both smokingand getting screened for cancer are related to behaviors over which individualshave control."

The report also illustrates where the nation is not making progress, said Ms.Rimer. For example, greater efforts are needed to reduce tobacco use, especiallyamong young people, who recently appear to show a promising decline in cigarettesmoking. In addition, the rising rates of some cancers, such as esophagealcancer and melanoma, must be addressed. Other areas that need attention includethe increase in obesity, inadequate protection of the skin from sunlight, andthe unexplained cancer-related health disparities between some subgroups in theUS population.

Scientific Evidence of Progress

The report presents important evidence-based measures of progress that are,in most cases, products of long-term national data collection and analysisefforts by the NCI, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, otherfederal agencies, the American Cancer Society, professional groups, and cancerresearchers. Robert Hiatt, MD, DCCPS deputy director and chair of NCI’s CancerProgress Report working group said the measures were organized along the cancercontinuum, in the areas of prevention (behavior and environmental), earlydetection, diagnosis, life after cancer, and end of life. Treatment measureswere not included because few have been tracked on a national level. "Thereport describes ongoing research activities that will lead to evidence-basedtreatment measures, which will appear in future editions of the report," hesaid.

Where possible, the report compares the most recent estimates with thecancer-related targets of Healthy People 2010, a set of 10-year objectives forthe nation sponsored by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

"Cancer Progress Report 2001 tells the nation where we are now andidentifies research, policy, and practice gaps that can help us plan for thefuture," said Dr. Hiatt. "The public can use the report to betterunderstand the nature of cancer and the results of strategies to fight it.Policymakers can review past efforts and plan future ones; and researchers,clinicians, and public health providers can focus on the gapsand opportunities identified to pave the way to future progress againstcancer."

The Cancer Progress Report resulted from recommendations by the NCI’sCancer Control Program Review Group and Surveillance Implementation Group todevelop a national progress report on the cancer burden. the online version ofthe report, which has links to additional information, is available at http://progressreport.cancer.gov.The online version will be updated every 6 to 12 months, and the printversion will be revised every 2 years. A CD-ROM version of the report will beavailable in 2002.