Sunday, July 15, 2012

Is There Too Much Breast Cancer Awareness?

The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is an authoritative source of information on cancer incidence and survival in the United States. SEER currently gathers and publishes information from population-based cancer registries covering approximately 28 percent of the US population.  The table below shows the SEER data for four of the most common type cancers as well as Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs).  A caveat here: The four most common cancer statistics come from SEER data from 2004-2009.  The NETs data is from 2004 alone and was taken from an article by K.E. Oberg, one of the foremost NET cancer doctors in Europe.

Type of Cancer
Incidences per 100,000 people
Neuroendocrine Tumor (NETs)

From what is frequently in the media, one might think that breast cancer is the most common cancer. Yet prostate cancer has a 25% higher incidence rate!  It’s interesting to me that this more frequent cancer lacks the organized marketing effort of breast cancer.  Where are the blue ribbons????   Where are the races in Central Park?

The chart above shows that NETs have a much lower incidence rate than any of these common cancers.  That explains why one doesn’t see many doctors that know about or treat this cancer.  This is why NETs are considered a rare or “orphan” disease by the National Institutes of Health. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the largest cause of all deaths among women is heart disease – see table below: 

Cause of Death
Heart Disease
Chronic lower respiratory diseases
Source:  Centers for Disease Control – Data as of 2007

The largest cause of cancer deaths among females is from lung, not breast cancer.  A female in the US is 73% more likely to die from lung cancer than breast cancer.*  Breast cancer is the second most likely cause of death among women, followed by colon cancer.

I get tired of hearing about breast cancer all the time.  It gobbles up enormous amounts of time, resources and attention when we should be raising funds for heart disease, lung cancer and other diseases.

I will be taking a few weeks off from blogging and will post again after I get back from my trip to Vanderbilt for the GA68 PET scan.

* United States Cancer Statistics (USCS) 1999–2008 Cancer Incidence and Mortality Data