Thursday, December 10, 2009

Colorectal Cancer Deaths Decline

Several non profit cancer research, surveillance and advocacy/ educational organizations put out a report this week stating that deaths from colorectal cancer had declined and were expected to continue to do so.

I am writing about it today because someone at my office printed the article but never took it off the copy machine so I thought - hmmm, I guess someone should take that article and read it, so I did.

Here is what concerns me. The scientists never say that the incidence of this cancer has gone down or will go down, only that deaths from it will. That is of course good news, I just wish it were better news.

Chemotherapy and surgery are used to treat this cancer and most of us know that the intervention is not without complications, risks or unpleasantness. Early detection is important as well and that requires a colonoscopy and or a blood fecal occult test. Insurance coverage for testing and treatment will certainly affect the outcomes as well.

The authors of the report, which is considered too optimistic by some, for the reasons I noted above (early detection and access to treatment), include the American Cancer Society, The National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries.

In a recent blog post of mine, the number one cancers by incidence and death were noted.

The number one cause of death in our country is not cancer, but heart disease. Cancer is the second leading cause of death and in that category, more persons DIE from lung cancer than any other (because it is hard to detect and then harder still to maintain or treat). Colorectal (colon and rectum) cancer deaths were the second leading cancer death in 2006. In case you forget, for women, breast is next and for men,prostate (except with the change noted here, the 2009 estimates move breast cancer deaths into second for women). Still breast cancer has good survival rates because of early detection and treatment while prostate cancer isn't necessarily cured, but grows slow enough so that the patient dies from something else first, like heart disease.

Anyway, the reason some persons feel that the assertion made in the report of a 50% decline in colorectal deaths from the year 2000 to 2020 is because the leading causes of the disease may not be addressed as fervently as they need to be.

The situations that put a person most at risk for this cancer are : smoking, being obese and eating red meat more than twice a week or more than 6 to 8 ounces a week. Are you making the necessary modifications in your life style? Seriously, because those are the same things that increase your risk for a heart attack.

No comments: