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Understanding Cancer Series

  • Posted: 01/28/2005
  • Reviewed: 09/30/2009

Slide 61

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Is There a Cancer "Epidemic"?

A common misconception arises from news stories suggesting we are experiencing a cancer "epidemic." This only appears to be the case because the number of new cancer cases reported is rising as the population is both expanding and aging. Older people are more likely to develop cancer; however, this trend is offset by new births, which are also increasing, and cancer is rare among the young. So as more and more members of a 75-million-strong "baby-boomer" cohort begin shifting en masse to older, more cancer-prone ages, the number of new cancer cases is expected to increase in the next several decades. But since the birth rate is also expected to increase, the cancer rate may either stay the same or, perhaps, decline.

Is There a Cancer Epidemic?