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Most Cancer Deaths Continue to Drop

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'It Is Not Enough' continued...

The report does find that between 2000 and 2009, overall rates of new diagnoses of cancer decreased by 0.6% per year among men, remained stable among women, and increased by 0.6% per year in children up to 14 years of age.

Cy Aaron Stein, MD, PhD, is worried that budget cutbacks will erode some of the gains seen in the new report. He is the chair of the Department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research at City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, Calf.

“I am delighted, but it is not enough,” he says. “The real question is: Will these decreases continue in today’s financial climate? We know that as go the finances, so goes the [death] rate. There is no question that we have to cut back, because we are going to break the bank if we don’t.”

Cancer: The Good and the Bad News

“We need to build on the progress and need a better understanding of why certain cancer death rates are dropping, and a better understanding about those that aren’t,” Saltz says. These include cancers related to HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that may increase risk of cervical, oral, anal, and other cancers.

From 2000 to 2009, rates of HPV-related oral cancer increased among white men and women. In addition, rates for anal cancer among white and African-American men and women continued to rise. In 2010, fewer than half of girls aged 13 to 16 got at least one dose of the HPV vaccine, and just 32% got all three doses.

Two vaccines (Cervarix and Gardasil) are approved to help prevent most cervical cancers in women. Gardasil may protect against genital warts and cancers of the anus, vagina, and vulva. Both vaccines are available for females. Only Gardasil can be used by males. The CDC recommends that all 11- or 12-year-old girls get the three shots of either vaccine. The CDC recommends Gardasil for all boys aged 11 or 12.

“HPV is an anti-cancer vaccine. If only we had vaccines to prevent other cancers as well,” Simard says.

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