April 10, 2007
by Helen Chickering, NBC News
The annual review by the American Cancer Society finds troubling signs that the number of people getting screened for the deadly disease is beginning to stall.
Prevention and early detection efforts - may be losing momentum. The latest American Cancer Society report shows for the second year - a stall in the number of women getting mammograms, and the drop in smoking rate - and little progress in the ongoing obesity epidemic, notes the Cancer Society's Dr. Michael Thun.
"Progress is slowing and unless we have a systematic effort to improve that um we're jeopardizing the progress we're making against cancer," Dr. Thun said.
Dr. Thun says access to quality medical care plays a big role in the prevention-detection stall, noting that the report finds there isn't sufficient funding to cover mammograms among the uninsured. "We have a health care system that is costing us a lot of money and it's broken it needs to be fixed."
The report also notes only 19 states- up one from last year - passed legislation supporting full insurance coverage for colorectal screening. "Prevention isn't as sexy emergency care, doesn't have sirens, doesn't have helicopters, but the fact is it's less expensive and with respect to the population's health, it's more effective."
Effective strategies that aren't being utilized - the ACS report estimates that up to a third of the more than half a million cancer deaths this year - could have been prevented. Researchers say while use of screenings has dramatically cut death rates, the tests are not reaching enough people.
The Cancer Society encourages everyone to ask their physician about their cancer risks and testing options.
The report, Cancer Prevention & Early Detection Facts And Figures 2007 (CPED) www.cancer.org says less than 40 percent of Americans ages 50 to 64 had a screening test for colorectal cancer in 2004. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the united states behind lung cancer. The ACS projects that 52,180 Americans will die from colorectal cancer this year.
A substantial part of the population is not getting mammograms. Only 55 percent of American women age 40 and up have had one in the past year. That's the same percentage as in 2000.
The study reported the prevalence of smoking among high school students is rising among most populations.
Obesity, a known contributor to cancer, is continuing to increase in children ages 2 to 19. Among adults, obesity rose from 31 percent to 33 percent in the last two years for which data is available.