How Well Americans Are Preventing Cancer

Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Facts and Figures 2013 released

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Most of us know what we can do to help prevent cancer – don’t smoke, eat a healthy diet, stay physically active and get screened to detect cancer at its earliest stages. The American Cancer Society has released its annual report card on how well we’re doing in all these areas.

More than one and a half million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Nearly one third of all cancers can be attributed to poor nutrition, physical inactivity and being overweight or obese. And that’s on top of the nearly 175,000 cancer deaths that will be due to smoking.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) has published its annual Cancer Prevention & Early Detection Facts & Figures (CPED) 2013 that reports on how many Americans are obese, physical inactive, use tobacco and get screened for cancer. The report also looks at various factors that influence these behaviors.  

"Move and eat your way to an ideal weight."

"Our report is a striking reminder that we need to do a better job reducing behavioral risk factors that increase cancer risk," said lead author Vilma Cokkinides, PhD, American Cancer Society strategic director of risk factors and screening.

Here are highlights from the report:

  • Fewer Americans are smoking, and fewer are smoking heavily.
  • Smoking among high school students has been cut in half, dropping from 36.4 percent in 1997 to 18.1 percent in 2011.
  • The rising incidence of obesity has started to slow, particularly in women and girls.
  • More white men than white women are obese, and more African-American and Hispanic women than men are obese.
  • More teen girls between the ages of 13 and 17 (53 percent in 2011) are taking the entire series of HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccinations, but rates are still lower than recommendations.
  • Rates of mammography (66.5 percent), pap tests (83 percent) and colorectal screening (59 percent) are steady, but remain low among immigrants, the uninsured and individuals who are not well educated.

“It's great that the ACS report offers us a glimpse into progress achieved and challenges remaining, for the general citizen, for physicians, and for healthcare policy makers,” Deborah Gordon, MD, Integrative Medicine practitioner, told dailyRx News.

“While it's wonderful to see smoking rates decline, we could invest more money, effort and wisdom into addressing ongoing smokers. The obesity problem can be seen as a wake-up call: what we're currently doing isn't working, so we need to determine how we can effect meaningful change,” said Dr. Gordon, who is the founder of DrDeborahMD.com.

Dr. Cokkinides said in a press release, "We could eliminate much of the suffering and death from cancer with better, more systematic efforts to reduce tobacco use, improve nutrition and opportunities for physical activity, and expand the use of those screening tests that are proven effective."

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 10, 2013
Last Updated:
August 14, 2013