The Overall Cancer Death Rate Has Declined
There has been plenty of recent news about breast cancer, most of it good:
The overall cancer death rate has declined. Fewer Americans died of cancer in 2003 than in previous years, the first decline ever recorded, reported by the American Cancer Society last week in the New York Times. The Society predicts that 2006 will see a slight decline over 2005, and estimates that 1.4 million Americans will be diagnosed and 565,000 will die this year. Advances in prevention, early detection and treatment are the main reasons given for the decline. The breast cancer death rate continues to fall, even as the incidence increases. There are an estimated 212,920 new cases, with 40,970 deaths expected this year.
Another flip-flop on the women taking estrogen debate. Now a new study says that for women who had hysterectomies, taking estrogen doesn’t increase the risk of heart disease, and may even protect the heart in women who are ages 50 to 59. This study only looks at the effects of estrogen alone, and not estrogen and progesterone combined, which have been found to increase the risk of breast cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. It is important to note that the new study doesn’t apply to menopausal women, only to those who have had hysterectomies.
A promising cancer drug, but one that is too expensive for many patients, is Avastin made by Genentech. It is used to treat colon cancer and holds potential as a drug for people with late-stage breast and lung cancers. That is, if patients can afford the $100,000 a year the drug company plans to charge for it, placing it out of the reach of many. Some insurers are rejecting coverage, or delaying decisions about it, which for people with advanced cancer, comes down to the same thing. These kinds of stories are why so many Americans think pharmaceutical companies are greedy and evil and should be regulated more by the government.
Published On: February 16, 2006