US doctors and scientists have made huge strides in the fight against cancer in the past four decades, slashing the death rate by nearly 16%, a report published on Tuesday showed.
But cancer remained the second leading cause of death in the United States last year, striking 1.5 million people and claiming the lives of 560 000 of them, the report in a special edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association said.
Preventive campaigns, such as drives to get Americans to quit smoking and early screening for breast, cervical and colon cancer, have led to a nearly one percent annual drop in the rate of new diagnoses between 1999 and 2006, the report in a special cancer-themed issue of JAMA said.
"Remarkable progress" has been made in treating childhood and other cancers, including testicular, breast, prostate and colorectal cancer, the report's authors, Susan Gapstur and Michael Thun of the American Cancer Society, wrote.
Rise in cancer risk
But while some battles have been won, others were still raging.
Other types of cancer - pancreatic, liver, ovarian, lung and brain - remain "highly lethal and non-responsive to current therapies", the report said.
And as life expectancy has increased, the risk of being diagnosed with cancer has risen, too: nearly half of men and a third of women will be diagnosed during their lifetime with cancer.
Meanwhile, a separate article released ahead of its publication in next week's Archives of Internal Medicine to coincide with JAMA's special issue, said the media focused too much on the battles won in the war against cancer and not enough on failures.
"Newspaper and magazine reports about cancer appear more likely to discuss aggressive treatment and survival than death, treatment failure or adverse events, and almost none mention end-of-life
palliative or hospice care," said the report.
Of the one in two men and one in three women who will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, around half will die of cancer or related complications, it said.
And yet, only 7.6% of more than 400 cancer news reports published between 2005 and 2007 which were analysed for the report, were about people who were dying or had died of cancer. - (Sapa/AFP, March 2010)