Too Many Cancers Still Spotted Too Late: CDC11/24/10
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Although screening tests
are widely available, many cancers aren't diagnosed until the
disease is well-advanced and, therefore, less treatable, a new U.S.
government report finds.
Almost one-half of colorectal cancers and cervical cancers and
one-third of breast cancers in the United States are detected at a
late stage, according to the report released Wednesday by the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Yet, if caught early, these three cancers have very high
"People need to be aware of what they need to have done medically and follow-up with their providers," said report co-author Dr. Lisa Richardson, associate director for science in CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control.
For the study, the researchers examined data collected from 2004
to 2006 from the CDC's National Program of Cancer Registries; the
U.S. National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and
End Results Program; and the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor
"For me, the most important point is to look at how different the rates of advanced-stage cancer are in different parts of the country," said Dr. Marc Lippman, chair of the department of medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and deputy director of the university's Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, who was not involved in the report.
The differences reflect socioeconomic status and access to care,
he said. "What this tells you is that a lot of cancer deaths are
preventable, and those skill-sets to prevent deaths are being
applied unequally across the country," Lippman explained.
Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma, for instance, had higher
rates of late-stage cancers than many other states.
Lippman said he thinks too few insurance companies pay for
preventive care, and noted that vast differences exist in access to
Some people are afraid of screening and some doctors don't even
discuss cancer screening with their patients, Lippman noted.
"Many people have a fatalistic view of cancer, which is unfortunate, because many cancers, if detected early, have dramatically better survival with dramatically less treatment," Lippman said.
Other findings in the report include:
- Rates of late-stage colorectal cancer increase with age and are
highest among black men and women.
- Women aged 70 to 79 and black women were most likely to have
breast cancer detected at a late stage.
- Rates of late-stage cervical cancer were highest among women
aged 50 to 79 and Hispanic women.
- States with the highest rates of late-stage colorectal cancer
are Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana,
Maine, Nebraska, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
- Rates of late-stage breast cancer incidence were highest in
Alabama, the District of Columbia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi,
New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Washington.
- For cervical cancer, rates of late-stage diagnosis were highest
in Arkansas, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Kentucky,
Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
"This report causes concern because so many preventable cancers are not being diagnosed when treatment is most effective," Dr. Marcus Plescia, director of CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, said in a statement Wednesday.
"More work is needed to widely implement evidence-based cancer screening tests, which may lead to early detection and, ultimately, an increase in the number of lives saved," he said.
Screening recommendations include:
- Men and women 50 to 75 years old should get screened for colon
cancer with a fecal occult blood test every year, a flexible
sigmoidoscopy every five years, or a colonoscopy every 10
- Women 50 to 74 years old should be screened for breast cancer
with mammography every two years.
- Pap tests to screen for cervical cancer should begin within
three years of becoming sexual active or at age 21, whichever comes
first. Initial screening should be annual, and after three
consecutive normal tests at least every three years up to age
"People need to take advantage of the fact that we do have these screening tests that have been shown to lower mortality and lead to earlier-stage diagnosis," said Richardson.
By eliminating financial barriers to cancer screenings, such as
co-pays, the new Affordable Care Act offers an important first step
to increasing the number of people who receive these services, the
For more information on cancer screening, visit the
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