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NCI Releases New Report on Nation's Progress Against Cancer

ANN ARBOR, MI - The National Cancer Institute (NCI) today released Cancer Progress Report 2001 - the first in a new series of reports designed to make scientific information on cancer more accessible and understandable. The new report succinctly describes and illustrates the nation's progress in reducing the cancer burden across the full cancer continuum, from prevention through the impact of deaths from cancer.

"Overall, Cancer Progress Report 2001 paints a positive picture," said Barbara Rimer, director of NCI's Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS). "Highlighting important cancer control indicators, the report shows how the rates of both new cancers and cancer deaths are falling overall, due to factors such as the growing adoption of state-of-the-art cancer treatments, reduced cigarette smoking by adults and increased screenings for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers. Both smoking and getting screened for cancer are related to behaviors over which individuals have control."

"Our study has important applications in the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of prostate cancer," says Mark Rubin, M.D., a co-author of the Nature paper and an associate professor of pathology and urology in the U-M Medical School. "The ultimate goal is to help physicians determine which patients need immediate, aggressive treatment and which can be watched and treated conservatively."

But the report also illustrates where the nation is not making progress or is losing ground, Rimer said. For example, greater efforts are needed to reduce tobacco use, especially among youth where there appears to be a recent promising decline in cigarette smoking. Rising rates of some cancers, such as esophageal cancer and melanoma skin cancer, must be addressed. Other areas that need attention include increased overweight and obesity, inadequate protection of the skin from sunlight, and unexplained cancer-related health disparities between some subgroups in the U.S. population.

"The Cancer Progress Report is an effort to publish, in one place, the most up-to-date information on the nation's progress against cancer, gathered through a collaborative effort with other key cancer agencies and groups," said Robert Hiatt, M.D., DCCPS deputy director and chair of NCI's Cancer Progress Report working group. Hiatt released the report this morning at a meeting of the National Cancer Advisory Board in Bethesda, Md.

The report presents important measures of progress that are based on scientific evidence and that are, in most cases, products of long-term national data collection and analysis efforts by NCI, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, other federal agencies, the American Cancer Society, professional groups, and cancer researchers.

Hiatt said the measures are organized along the cancer continuum, in the areas of prevention (behavioral and environmental), early detection, diagnosis, life after cancer and end of life. Treatment measures are not included in the Cancer Progress Report because few have been tracked at a national level. "The report describes ongoing research activities that will lead to evidence-based treatment measures, which will appear in future editions of the report," he said.

Hiatt said that, where possible, the report compares the most recent estimates with the cancer-related targets of Healthy People 2010, a comprehensive set of 10-year objectives for the nation, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Special color-coded graphics in the "Highlights" summary section show whether each trend is going in the desired direction and how the nation's progress compares to the Healthy People 2010 targets.

"Cancer Progress Report 2001 tells the nation where we are now and identifies research, policy and practice gaps that can help us plan for the future," according to Hiatt. "The public can use the report to better understand the nature of cancer and the results of strategies to fight it. Policymakers can review past efforts and plan future ones; and researchers, clinicians and public health providers can focus on the gaps and opportunities identified to pave the way to future progress against cancer."

The Cancer Progress Report resulted from recommendations by NCI's Cancer Control Program Review Group and Surveillance Implementation Group to develop a national progress report on the cancer burden.

Free copies may be ordered by calling 1-800-4-CANCER and requesting Cancer Progress Report 2001 (T905). A stand-alone version of the executive summary, Cancer Progress Report 2001: Highlights (T983), also is available.

To view the online version of the report, which has links to additional information, visit http://progressreport.cancer.gov. The online version will be updated every six to 12 months, and the print version will be revised and published every two years. A CD-ROM version of the report will be available in 2002.

Written by Paula Zeller, NCI Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences
Telephone (301) 594-7295
email: zellerp@mail.nih.gov

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