Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Drop In Cancer Deaths Tied Primarily To Gains In Behavior And Screening

Date:
December 3, 2008
Source:
Harvard University
Summary:
Behavior change and improvements in screening have contributed equally and substantially to the 13 percent decline in cancer mortality rates, according to new research. Cancer treatment after diagnosis has also contributed to the decline, although this is less of a factor than behavioral changes and screening.

Improvements in behavior and screening have contributed greatly to the 13 percent decline in cancer mortality since 1990, with better cancer treatments playing a supporting role, according to new research from David Cutler of Harvard University.

Related Articles


While not the first to report a long-term decline in cancer mortality, Cutler's is the first study to examine the reasons for this decline. Cutler's looks at data for lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancer.

"The decline in cancer is much larger than we commonly understand," says Cutler, who is Otto Eckstein Professor of Applied Economics in Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences, "and thus the benefits to society from reduced cancer mortality are even bigger than previously thought."

Cutler added that it had been unclear which of the many steps that have been taken to fight cancer have been most effective. In this research, he found that while reasons for the decline vary by type of cancer, screening and behavioral changes have contributed both equally and substantially.

Behavioral changes have had the greatest effect on lung cancer, Cutler says, where smoking cessation has had a tremendous impact. Other types of cancer have not been similarly impacted by the reduction in smoking. "The immense effort put into reducing smoking the past few decades has really paid off," Cutler noted.

In contrast, screening has proven especially effective in early detection of colorectal and breast cancer, but less so in identifying lung or prostate cancer. Colonoscopies also have a preventive value in removing polyps, and so preventing the formation of colon cancer.

"Among types of cancer where screening is valuable," Cutler says, "the question becomes: How can we increase the number of people who are being screened? Although costly, many types of screening are an enormous value."

Cutler found that treatment of cancer after its detection has been the least decisive of the three factors in cutting the cancer mortality rate.

"Drugs that are quite expensive have been shown to extend life by only a few months among patients with metastatic cancer, which raises questions about the relative value of such costly treatments," he says. "In contrast, while screening can be expensive, increased screening has led to significantly longer life expectancy for those diagnosed early with colorectal or breast cancer."

Cutler examined these four types of cancer because they are the most common, with abundant data on patient outcomes. Data was examined from population registries of individuals with cancer, as well as clinical literature about the effectiveness of behavioral changes, screenings and treatment.

"We typically think of the war on cancer as developing a new cure," says Cutler. "An equally important question is figuring out how we can take what we know and make it work for more people. We should think about the war as not just developing the next weapon, but using what we have in a smarter way. A health care system working for cancer would prevent people from getting it, catch it early, and then treat people accordingly. If our healthcare sys-tem was focused in this way, there could be a huge benefit."

The research was funded by the National Institutes on Aging.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Harvard University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Are We Finally Winning the War on Cancer? Journal of Economic Perspectives, Fall 2008

Cite This Page:

Harvard University. "Drop In Cancer Deaths Tied Primarily To Gains In Behavior And Screening." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081202133224.htm>.
Harvard University. (2008, December 3). Drop In Cancer Deaths Tied Primarily To Gains In Behavior And Screening. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081202133224.htm
Harvard University. "Drop In Cancer Deaths Tied Primarily To Gains In Behavior And Screening." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081202133224.htm (accessed November 29, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rural India's Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Revolution

Rural India's Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Revolution

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — One man hopes his invention -– a machine that produces cheap sanitary pads –- will help empower Indian women. Duration: 01:51 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO Says Male Ebola Survivors Should Abstain From Sex

WHO Says Male Ebola Survivors Should Abstain From Sex

Newsy (Nov. 28, 2014) — WHO cites four studies that say Ebola can still be detected in semen up to 82 days after the onset of symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins