Gender, Health Care, Public Health, Race

American Cancer Society: Cancer facts and figures 2012

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Last updated: January 9, 2012

Cancer drug (iStock)
Cancer drug (iStock)

A 2012 report from the American Cancer Society, “Cancer Facts and Figures, 2012,” provides basic information on projected cancer mortality rates by state, age and gender, survival trends and the impact of personal behaviors (smoking, physical activity) and the environment on cancer rates. The report also includes statistics on U.S. cancer diagnoses and deaths from 2004 to 2008 as recorded by the National Cancer Institute’s SEER program and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Program of Cancer Registries.

Key study findings include:

  • In 2012, approximately 1,690,000 new cancer cases will be diagnosed and 577,000 Americans will ultimately die of cancer.
  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths for both men and women, responsible for 28% of all cancer mortalities.
  • Lung cancer is by far the most lethal type of cancer for men; breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths for women (approximately 23 cases out of every 100,000 women), followed by colon and rectum cancer (15 out of every 100,000).
  • Lung cancer death rates increased dramatically between 1930 (2 out of every 100,000 men) and 2008 (60 out of every 100,000 men), but have been on the decline since 1991. Lung cancer death rates for women peaked in 1998-1999 (40 out of every 100,000 women) before declining slightly in 2008 (39 out of every 100,000 women). “Gender differences in lung cancer mortality patterns reflect historical differences between men and women in the update and reduction of cigarette smoking over the past fifty years.”
  • While incidence rates for many cancers such as lung and breast cancer are declining as of 2012, cancers of the liver, the pancreas, the thyroid, melanoma (skin cancer) and others are rising.
  • In 2007, the overall costs of cancer — including treatment and indirect mortality expenses (such as lost productivity in the workplace) — was estimated to be $226.8 billion.
  • In 2009, 32% of Hispanics and 10% of children 17 years old or younger lacked health insurance; “uninsured patients and those from ethnic minorities are substantially more likely to be diagnosed with cancer at a later stage, when treatment can be more extensive and more costly.”
  • “The 5-year relative survival rate for all cancers diagnosed between 2001 and 2007 is 67%, up from 49% in 1975-1977. The improvement in survival reflects both progress in diagnosing certain cancers at an earlier state and improvements in treatment.”

Tags: gender, medicine, science, hispanic, latino, race


Writer: | January 9, 2012

Analysis assignments

Read the American Cancer Society report “Cancer Facts and Figures 2012.”

  1. Summarize the study in fewer than 40 words.
  2. Express the study's key term(s) in language a lay audience can understand.
  3. Evaluate the study's limitations. (For example: Do the results conflict with those of other reliable studies? Are there weaknesses in the study's data or research design?)

Newswriting assignments

  1. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study.
  2. Spend 60 minutes exploring the issue by accessing sources of information other than the study. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study but informed by the new information. Does the new information significantly change what one would write based on the study alone?
  3. Interview two sources with a stake in or knowledge of the issue. Be prepared to provide them with a short summary of the study in order to get their response to it. Write a 400-word article about the study incorporating material from the interviews.
  4. Spend additional time exploring the issue and then write a 1,200-word background article, focusing on major aspects of the issue.

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