U.S. Issues Broader Cancer Statistics

From the WebMD Archives

Nov. 22, 2002 -- Regardless of race, cancers of the prostate and breast are still the most commonly found cancers among men and women, according to a major government report on cancer rates in the U.S.

Officials say the report, issued jointly by the CDC and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in collaboration with the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, is the most comprehensive study of cancer rates ever produced. Previous federal cancer statistics have used data from the NCI's registry, which is based on up to 14% of the U.S. population, and other federal sources.

The new cancer statistics are the first to contain information from each state that has high-quality statistics of their own and covers 78% of the U.S. population. The results are from data collected on cancer cases diagnosed in 1999 (the most recent year for which information was available) in 37 states, six metropolitan areas, and the District of Columbia. The report does not include information on cancer deaths.

Overall, the most commonly diagnosed cancer among men in 1999 was prostate cancer, with 162 cases for every 100,000 men. But prostate cancer rates were 1.5 times higher among black men than white men. The other most commonly found cancers among men were those of the lung, colon and rectum, bladder, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Among women, breast cancer was the most common cancer reported, found in 134 of every 100,000 women, followed by cancers of the lung, colon and rectum, uterus, and ovary.

Although breast cancer was found to be 20% higher in white women than in black women, recent studies have shown that breast cancer tends to be more deadly among black women because of less screening and other socioeconomic issues.

Information from population-based cancer registries is used to design effective cancer prevention and control programs that target behaviors that put people at risk for cancer, such as tobacco use and lack of physical activity, as well as reducing environmental risk factors such as exposure to known cancer-causing substances.

"With this new data, we can better identify, understand, and address differences in cancer rates across the country," says Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson in a news release. "The state and regional data will prove invaluable to public health officials as they plan and evaluate cancer control programs and conduct research."

Other major differences highlighted by the report include:

  • Melanomas were among top 15 most common cancers in white men and women, but not in black men and women.
  • Testicular cancer and brain/nervous system cancers were the 15th most common cancers among white men and women, respectively, but neither made the top 15 among black men and women.
  • Multiple myeloma (a type of cancer that affects the antibody-producing plasma cells in blood) was among the top 15 cancers found in black men and women, but not white men and women.

Researchers say data collection on race and ethnicity varied from state to state. Therefore, only information on blacks and whites were included in the report.

WebMD Health News


SOURCES: U.S. Cancer Statistics: 1999 Incidence • News release, National Cancer Institute • WebMD: "Poverty Affects Breast Cancer Death-->."
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