University of Iowa experts encouraged by national cancer trends

The “Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer” shows that the rate of cancer deaths in the United States decreased 1.6 percent each year from 2001 to 2006. In addition, the rate of diagnoses for all types of cancer decreased by 0.7 percent each year from 1999 to 2006.

The report is prepared each year by the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries.

“We are pleased to see progress but recognize the progress is too slow and much more needs to be done,” said George Weiner M.D., director of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa.

The center, one of only 40 NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers nationwide, is helping contribute to cancer rate declines through advances in research, clinical care and prevention.

“At Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, we are at the forefront of many aspects of cancer research, extending from our understanding of the molecules that make cancer cells behave abnormally to developing a new vaccine for prostate cancer. Most importantly, we are working to use this knowledge gained through research to enhance clinicians’ ability to prevent, detect and treat cancer,” Weiner said.

From a clinical care perspective, Holden Cancer Center provides state-of-the-art, multidisciplinary individualized care. “The teamwork needed to provide such complex cancer care is key to continued improvement in outcomes for many cancers,” Weiner said.

The national report said that overall declines in rates of cancer deaths and cases were largely due to declines in both cases and deaths for the three most common cancers in men — lung, prostate and colorectal cancers — and for two of the three leading cancers in women — breast and colorectal cancer.

Lung cancer, the other leading cancer seen in women, had a slightly increased rate of new cases in women, the report showed. This is because smoking rates for women began decreasing more recently than they did for men.

Charles Lynch, M.D., a member of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center and director of the State Health Registry of Iowa, which is based in the UI College of Public Health, said that the registry is one of the nine standard registries that gather and share cancer data on a combined 10 percent of the nation’s population.

Earlier this year, the state registry issued a special report on colorectal cancer, and this year’s national report also had a special focus on this disease, which is the third most frequently diagnosed cancer in both men and women and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

The new national report said that from about 1975 to 2000 the incidence of colorectal cancer decreased by 22 percent. The report also said that by 2020 there could be an additional 50 percent decrease in the number of colorectal cancer deaths if Americans follow good health behaviors (such as quitting smoking) and increase their use of screening, and if treatment outcomes improve.

“Reducing risk, increasing screening and improved treatment for colorectal cancer will be challenging but is certainly possible,” Lynch said.

“Success will require collaboration between academic medical centers making discoveries, clinicians being able to bring those advances to patients, and a health care system that provides support for cancer prevention, early detection and therapy,” Weiner said.

Holden Cancer Center members in the UI College of Public Health and Carver College of Medicine also serve in leadership roles in the Iowa Cancer Consortium that is working with others across the state of Iowa on issues such as tobacco control, increasing rates of colorectal cancer screening and clinical trials research.

“This is an excellent example of the collaboration that is needed if we are to speed up the pace of progress against cancer,” Weiner said.

Learn more about the NCI report at

Learn more about Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at or

Learn more about cancer reports issued by the State Health Registry of Iowa at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Care Media Relations, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room E110 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009

MEDIA CONTACT: Becky Soglin, 319-356-7127, [email protected]

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