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Drop in cancer deaths tied primarily to gains in behavior and screening
Date:12/2/2008

g screened? Although costly, many types of screening are an enormous value."

Cutler found that treatment of cancer after its detection has been the least decisive of the three factors in cutting the cancer mortality rate.

"Drugs that are quite expensive have been shown to extend life by only a few months among patients with metastatic cancer, which raises questions about the relative value of such costly treatments," he says. "In contrast, while screening can be expensive, increased screening has led to significantly longer life expectancy for those diagnosed early with colorectal or breast cancer."

Cutler examined these four types of cancer because they are the most common, with abundant data on patient outcomes. Data was examined from population registries of individuals with cancer, as well as clinical literature about the effectiveness of behavioral changes, screenings and treatment.

"We typically think of the war on cancer as developing a new cure," says Cutler. "An equally important question is figuring out how we can take what we know and make it work for more people. We should think about the war as not just developing the next weapon, but using what we have in a smarter way. A health care system working for cancer would prevent people from getting it, catch it early, and then treat people accordingly. If our healthcare sys-tem was focused in this way, there could be a huge benefit."


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Contact: Amy Lavoie
amy_lavoie@harvard.edu
617-496-9982
Harvard University
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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