I’m not a big fan of cancer related status reports.  No one needs to tell me that there are more cases of cancer lately–and that many patients live longer than they used to.

But this report did catch my eye.  I am reproducing the abstract here for you to read.  For those of you who are new to all of this, abstracts are short summaries of a much longer study.   See what you think:

Annual Report to the Nation on the status of cancer, 1975-2008, featuring cancers associated with excess weight and lack of sufficient physical activity

  1. Christie Eheman PhD1,§,*,
  2. S. Jane Henley MSPH1,
  3. Rachel Ballard-Barbash MD, MPH2,
  4. Eric J. Jacobs PhD3,
  5. Maria J. Schymura PhD4,5,
  6. Anne-Michelle Noone MS2,
  7. Liping Pan MD, MPH6,
  8. Robert N. Anderson PhD7,
  9. Janet E. Fulton PhD6,
  10. Betsy A. Kohler MPH, CTR4,
  11. Ahmedin Jemal DVM, PhD8,
  12. Elizabeth Ward PhD8,
  13. Marcus Plescia MD, MPH1,
  14. Lynn A. G. Ries MS2,
  15. Brenda K. Edwards PhD2

Article first published online: 28 MAR 2012



Annual updates on cancer occurrence and trends in the United States are provided through collaboration between the American Cancer Society (ACS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR). This year’s report highlights the increased cancer risk associated with excess weight (overweight or obesity) and lack of sufficient physical activity (<150 minutes of physical activity per week).


Data on cancer incidence were obtained from the CDC, NCI, and NAACCR; data on cancer deaths were obtained from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. Annual percent changes in incidence and death rates (age-standardized to the 2000 US population) for all cancers combined and for the leading cancers among men and among women were estimated by joinpoint analysis of long-term trends (incidence for 1992-2008 and mortality for 1975-2008) and short-term trends (1999-2008). Information was obtained from national surveys about the proportion of US children, adolescents, and adults who are overweight, obese, insufficiently physically active, or physically inactive.


Death rates from all cancers combined decreased from 1999 to 2008, continuing a decline that began in the early 1990s, among men and among women in most racial and ethnic groups. Death rates decreased from 1999 to 2008 for most cancer sites, including the 4 most common cancers (lung, colorectal, breast, and prostate). The incidence of prostate and colorectal cancers also decreased from 1999 to 2008. Lung cancer incidence declined from 1999 to 2008 among men and from 2004 to 2008 among women. Breast cancer incidence decreased from 1999 to 2004 but was stable from 2004 to 2008. Incidence increased for several cancers, including pancreas, kidney, and adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, which are associated with excess weight.


Although improvements are reported in the US cancer burden, excess weight and lack of sufficient physical activity contribute to the increased incidence of many cancers, adversely affect quality of life for cancer survivors, and may worsen prognosis for several cancers. The current report highlights the importance of efforts to promote healthy weight and sufficient physical activity in reducing the cancer burden in the United States.* Cancer 2012;. © 2012 American Cancer Society.

Note this short statement, buried in the conclusion:

“Excess weight and lack of sufficient physical activity… adversely affect quality of life for cancer survivors, and may worsen prognosis for several cancers.”

Medpage TODAY ran an article about these study results a few days ago.  Here is their list of “highlights:

  • Lung and colorectal cancer incidence and mortality declined in men and women.
  • Breast cancer incidence declined from 1999 to 2008 but rose by 0.2% annually during 2004 to 2008.
  • Breast cancer mortality declined from 1999 to 2008 and from 2004 to 2008.
  • Prostate cancer incidence and mortality decreased from 1999 to 2008 and from 2004 to 2008.
  • Rates of melanoma and of pancreatic, kidney, thyroid, and liver cancer increased from 1999 through 2008.
  • The incidence of childhood cancer (occurring in children ≤19) increased by 0.6% per year during the most recent 5-year period, but mortality declined by 1.3% annually.
  • Black men and white women had the highest cancer incidence, and cancer mortality was highest among black men and women during 2004 to 2008, although the same two groups had the largest declines in mortality from 1999 to 2008.

The Medpage TODAY article headline sums it all up in excellent fashion:

Cancer Rates Fall; Lifestyle Toll Mounts

“Lifestyle Toll Mounts.”  Neither the study or the follow-up article come to any meaningful conclusions.  But I have one:  Cancer patients may be living longer, but modern medicine has a long way to go to help survivors improve their overall quality of life.

Reading between the lines, that is a big part of what this report is all about.  It reminds us that we are also responsible for taking care of ourselves.  We can’t just sit-back and rely on our friends at the oncology clinic to do it for us.

If you don’t go to the trouble of taking care of your body when you are dealing with cancer, the cancer almost always wins! 

Helping you take better care of your body–so you are able to get around and enjoy living–is what this site is all about.

So take care of yourself, people!  Having cancer means you need to work harder at staying fit and eating well.  You can’t just give up!  Please don’t!

To me, cancer survivors are interesting, valuable contributors to society.  Most of my friends are cancer patients or caregivers–and I wouldn’t want it any other way!

Eat lots of fruit and vegetables, exercise regularly so you can feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

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