Cancer updates!

Yesterday was evidently World Cancer Day. A big report came out on cancer worldwide. There are two paragraphs I’d like to highlight. The first is on breast cancer (emphasis mine):

Between 1980 and the late 1990s, breast cancer incidence rates rose approximately 30% in Western countries, likely because of changes in reproductive factors and the use of menopausal hormone therapy and more recently because of increased screening. Declining incidence rates in the early 2000s have been attributed to the reduced use of menopausal hormone therapy in countries where it was formerly common, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia. Beyond changes in menopausal hormone therapy use, declining or stable incidence rates in Western countries may also be due to plateaus in participation in mammographic screening. In contrast, breast cancer death rates have been stable or decreasing since around 1990 in Northern America and higher-resource European countries. These reductions have been attributed to early detection through mammography and improved treatment, although the respective contributions of each are unclear. Breast cancer incidence rates have been rising in many countries in South America, Africa, and Asia. The reasons are not completely understood but likely reflect changing reproductive patterns, increasing obesity, decreasing physical activity, and some breast cancer screening activity. Mortality rates in these countries are also increasing, most likely due to lifestyle changes associated with westernization compounded by the delayed introduction of effective breast cancer screening programs and, in some cases, limited access to treatment.

Regardless, good news in the developed world, more work to be done in other settings, though. The second paragraph is about lung cancer (emphasis mine):

An estimated 1.8 million new lung cancer cases occurred in 2012, accounting for about 13% of total cancer diagnoses. Lung cancer was the most frequently diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of cancer death among males in 2012 (Fig. 2). Among females, lung cancer was the leading cause of cancer death in more developed countries, and the second leading cause of cancer death in less developed countries. In men, the highest lung cancer incidence rates were in Europe, Eastern Asia, and Northern America, and the lowest rates were in sub-Saharan Africa (Fig. 6). Among women, the highest lung cancer rates were in Northern America, Northern and Western Europe, Australia/New Zealand, and Eastern Asia (Fig. 6). Lung cancer rates in Chinese women (20.4 cases per 100,000 women) were higher than rates among women in some European countries despite a lower prevalence of smoking. This is thought to reflect indoor air pollution from unventilated coal-fueled stoves and cooking fumes. Other known risk factors for lung cancer include exposure to occupational and environmental carcinogens such as asbestos, arsenic, radon, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Recently, outdoor pollution has also been determined to cause lung cancer. More than one-half of the lung cancer deaths attributable to ambient fine particles were projected to have been in China and other East Asian countries.

Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer of women in the developed world (the US included). It also happens to be one of the most preventable forms of cancer. It would be nice to see an adjustment in US focus, at least a little one, to acknowledge this fact. And I’m not even going to bring up heart disease.

Rate limiting steps, people.


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