Sunday, October 26, 2008

cancer, death rates

I subscribe to Nutrition Action Health, a small magazine with information about health and nutrition (as you might have guessed). They often have interesting articles to read, and every edition has a comparison of a bunch of different brands of some type of food (cereal, yogurt, etc.). They rate them all on a bunch of different criteria. It's interesting.

Anyway, a new copy came yesterday, and the cover article is "Cancer: What You Need to Know." So I looked through it. It lists several kinds of cancers, what elevates risk for them, how many people are estimated to get them in 2008, warning signs. There is also a chart of the top 15 killers for men and women. The chart was fascinating to me. (Chart info cited from the American Cancer Society. Numbers represent estimated deaths in 2008.)

For women:
1- lung (71,030) (Lung cancer was not one of the cancers they gave all of the other information for, interestingly enough.)
2- breast (40, 480)
3- colon & rectum (25,700)
4- pancreas (16, 790)
5- ovary (15,520)
6- non-Hodgkin lymphoma (!!!) (9,370)
7- leukemia (9,250)
8- uterus (7,470)
9- liver (5,840)
10- brain (5,650)
11- myeloma* (5,050)
12- kidney (4,910)
13- stomach (4,430)
14- bladder (4,150)
15- cervix (3,870)

For men:
1- lung (90,810)
2- prostate (28,660)
3- colon & rectum (24,260)
4- pancreas (17,500)
5- liver (12,570)
6- leukemia (12,460)
7- esophagus (11,250)
8- bladder (9,950)
9- non-Hodgkin lymphoma (9,790)
10- kidney (8,100)
11- brain (7,420)
12- myeloma* (5,640)
13- melanoma (5,400)
14- oral cavity & pharynx (5,210)
15- larynx (2,910)

*I didn't know what myeloma was. Cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. Treatable but not curable. I'm glad I didn't learn that one through experience.

There is another chart that shows 5-year survival rates (as a percentage) in four columns: total, local, regional, distant.

Looking at local (meaning it hasn't hit lymph nodes) survival rates, cancers that are in the 90s for 5-year survival (of the ones listed) are female breast cancer, colon/rectum, kidney, melanoma, ovary, prostate (100%), thyroid (100%), testicle, bladder, cervix, uterus. This means catch it early!

Those in the 80s were larynx and oral.

Those between 50 and 79: stomach.

30-49: esophagus, lung.

Below 30: liver.

For "distant," meaning it had gotten into lymph nodes and spread to distant sites in the body (the explanation given to me at the hospital was, "Does it cross over the horizontal plane of the diaphragm?"), all were at or below 30% except prostate (32), testicle (70), thyroid (56).

OK, enough numbers. They were really interesting to me.

The more detailed write-ups were about cancers of the breast, colon/rectum, esophagus, kidney, ovary, pancreas, prostate, and uterus. Of those, prostate was the only one that didn't list weight as a risk factor. Ovarian cancer, the research is inconclusive about weight.

That leads me to my next cancer rant, but that will need to wait for another time.

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