2011 Cancer Stats

Correlation between smoking and lung cancer in...

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Just a quick update for you stats junkies on the status of cancer deaths and incidences for 2011. 

The estimated number of Americans (sorry the US has some of the best stats out there and is upfront about publishing those numbers) living with cancer today in 2001 is about 11.7 million.  This number is actually a bit misleading as it estimates the total number of people who had cancer (either currently or previously in 2007).  Some of these folks have died of cancer, dies of other causes, or are still alive today (with or without cancer).  However, the number of new cancer cases for 2011 is estimated to be about 1.6 million people.  Thus, cancer deaths and new cancer cases have away of balancing each other out (not always evenly).  About 572,000 people are expected to die of cancer this year. 

Men have about a 1 in 2 lifetime risk in developing cancer while women have about a 1 and 3 chance.  Much of that has to do with cancer from smoking which up until the 80’2 was mostly a problem for men.  In fact, in 2011 cancer related complications from smoking is estimated to kill about 171,600 people.  This is sad as this type of cancer is preventable.  This will change as the women who started smoking in large numbers after men (late 70’2 and further) will soon start to see the delayed increase in lung cancer rates. 

Other preventable cancers (related to obesity, poor nutrition, and infectious agents such as HPV) will result in about 572,000 deaths. It is sad as many of these can be prevented by improving diets, exercising, and lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation and reduced alcohol consumption (easier said than done).  2 million skin cancers are detected annually and many of these can be prevented by appropriate skin care products or a reduction in prolonged exposure.  Many of these cancers are not lethal (if they are detected early the success rate of survival is high) but costs add to ever-increasing health care  burdens. 

Today, heart disease is the biggest killer of Americans…this is followed by cancer deaths at number two.  Today, one in four Americans can be expected to die of cancer.  The typical age of developing cancer is about 55 (in fact, 78% of all cancers are detected at that age or older).

However, as cancer becomes more frequent it is important to ask what is our overall survival rates for those with cancer on average.  The most up to date 5 year survival rates for people with cancer (all forms of cancer combined) is about 68%.  That has improved from a previous rate of about 50%.  However, it is important to note that these numbers are very different from one cancer to another.  As we catch cancer earlier we are able to treat it better.  As treatments improve for some cancers, people are able to survive longer. 

The top ten cancer killers are Lung, Prostate, Colon, Pancreas, Liver, leukemia, esophagus, Bladder, Lymphoma, and Kidney (in men).  In women the second cancer killer is breast instead of Prostate and Ovary, Uterine, and Brain cancers appear on the top ten list. 

Anyhow, I will stop at this and recommend that you read the Cancer Facts and Figures 20011 from the American Cancer Society which is available online.

Thanks, Dr. C

Cancer made Simple

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