Large Portion of Late-Stage Breast Cancers Associated With Absence of Screening
Increasing mammography screening rates and investing in research to improve breast cancer detection technologies should be top priorities, according to authors of a study published in the October 20 Journal of the National Cancer Institute. As many as 92 percent of late-stage breast cancer cases in the United States could be diagnosed and treated earlier, when there is greater likelihood of effective treatment, if the healthcare system focused on recruiting women who have not been recently screened, and if early detection techniques could be improved to more accurately detect cancer. The study was conducted by researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Cancer Research Network, a consortium of integrated health plans.
Study results indicated that not having had a screening mammogram for 1 to 3 years prior to diagnosis was associated with 52 percent of late-stage breast cancer cases. The authors state that to improve breast cancer outcomes, priority should be placed on reaching unscreened women and encouraging them to have mammograms - especially older, unmarried, less educated, and/or low income women, whom they found were less likely to have been screened. "The good news is that there is a lot known about how to reach women who have never been screened or who fail to get regular mammograms," said Dr. Stephen Taplin, a senior scientist in NCI's Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences and lead author of the study. "The challenge is to put this knowledge into practice." Read more
Nutrition: A New Frontier in Cancer Research
The obesity epidemic has generated intense concern in the medical community, and rightfully so. It has had devastating consequences for our nation's health and health care system, driving rates of several chronic illnesses into the stratosphere and heaping tens of billions of dollars onto an already strained health care budget. And as we are beginning to better appreciate, obesity has also significantly affected cancer incidence, progression, and death rates. In fact, the most recent estimates attribute 3.2 percent of all new cancers - 14 percent of cancer deaths in men and 20 percent in women - to obesity.
NCI, on its own and in partnership with other HHS agencies, is focused on better understanding the link between obesity and cancer and, at the same time, working to minimize the epidemic's impact. We are also beginning to better understand that the influence of diet on cancer goes well beyond questions of quantity and energy expenditure.
To be sure, the food we eat every day is remarkably complex. Its nutrients and molecules have profound genetic and cellular effects that directly influence cancer susceptibility. The components of our daily diet - the calcium in milk, the zinc in chicken and nuts, the flavonoids in onions and carrots, the fatty acids in tuna or avocados - all alter a broad array of cancer-related events, including inflammatory response, carcinogen metabolism, cell death, and DNA repair. Read more