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'Enormous Progress' in Reducing Cancer Does Not Include Lung Cancer

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) cautioned today that recently released cancer statistics indicate that lung cancer continues to kill more people each year than all the other major cancers combined.

Last week, in issuing its annual review of government statistics entitled Cancer Facts and Figures for 2008, the American Cancer Society cited the "enormous progress that has been made against cancer over the past 15 years."

Laurie Fenton Ambrose, LCA President & CEO said, "Sadly this is not true for lung cancer, which is still the biggest cancer killer and its 5 year survival rate is still only 15 percent."

In the 2003 report, ACS started using the 2000 census for its age adjusted statistical analysis.

Since that time, the incidence rate for lung cancer in men rose from 86 new cases per every 100,000 of population to 89, and incidence rates for women went from 51.4 to 55.2.

While the death rates for men have gone down in that time period, death rates for women continue to rise.

In its 2005 report, ACS claimed that lung cancer in women had "reached a plateau." That was changed to "reaching a plateau" in the 2006 and 2007 reports, and changed again to "approaching a plateau" in the just released 2008 report as the number of women being diagnosed and dying of lung cancer continued to climb.

"There is no way to put a happy face on these numbers which will continue to go up until we fund lung cancer research with a sense of urgency and at a level commensurate with its public health impact," Fenton Ambrose said.

In research dollars per death, lung cancer is receiving a fraction of the amounts given to breast, prostate and colon cancers. The five-year survival rate for breast cancer now stands at 88 percent, prostate cancer 99 percent and colon cancer 65 percent while lung cancer remains at 15 percent.

In addition, ACS credits screening as a major component in achieving these high survival rates and recommends annual mammograms for all women over 40 even though randomized controlled trials have not ended the debate about mammograms for women under 50.

PSA testing for prostate cancer and CT scans for lung cancer are currently undergoing randomized controlled trials and the US government gives both screening tests the same "I" rating: insufficient evidence to recommend for or against.

However, while mute on lung cancer screening, ACS strongly supports offering a PSA test to all men over 50 and urges that they be given information on prostate cancer screening "so they can make an informed decision."

"Why shouldn't those at risk for lung cancer be treated the same way and be allowed to make an informed decision with their doctors about the risks and benefits of C scans. There should not be such a double standard," Fenton-Ambrose stated.

Lung Cancer Alliance ( is the only national non-profit organization dedicated solely to patient support and advocacy for those living with or at risk for lung cancer. LCA is committed to leading the movement to reverse decades of stigma and neglect by empowering those with or at risk for the disease, elevating awareness and changing health policy.

SOURCE Lung Cancer Alliance
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