Published on January 17, 2020
January 17, 2020
Between 2016 and 2017, the rate of cancer deaths fell 2.2% — the largest single-year drop in history. While novel treatments and advances in research have contributed to the decline, prevention and early detection played a significant role in many cases—specifically, in lung and cervical cancers. Despite progress, there is more work to be done.
Low-dose CT (LDCT) screening for lung cancer allows doctors to make highly precise measurements of early-stage disease, when a surgical cure is possible. It is also fully reimbursed by both Medicare/Medicaid and private insurance. LDCT is also less expensive than other imaging techniques; however, only an estimated 5% of high-risk individuals are screened. Raising awareness and educating health care providers on its benefits for their patients can save lives.
Widespread immunization with the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine can prevent not only cervical cancer, but also five other types: vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal and oropharyngeal (back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils). Yet, there is still a lack of dialogue between doctors and the parents of their preteen patients about the importance of the HPV vaccine and the link between the virus and the cancers it causes.
Falling smoking rates are the biggest factor in reducing cancer deaths. In 1964, the U.S. Surgeon General released a report on the dangers of smoking. Since 1991, cancer deaths have been on a steady decline because more and more people have quit smoking.
Rebecca Siegel, one of the authors of the report, noted the best way to further reduce cancer deaths: high-quality prevention and early detection measures.
“The cancer death rate could certainly be jump-started by increasing access to high-quality screening and treatment to all individuals,” she said. There’s obviously that opportunity there.”
Cancer is a complex series of diseases, for which no one solution will work. More research is needed to find new and better ways to detect cancer early, and we need to get serious about making cancer prevention a part of our daily lives. By raising awareness and increasing the use of certain available tools, we can Stop Cancer Before It Starts!®
The annual Prevent Cancer Advocacy Workshop will be held on Wednesday, March 25 at the FHI 360 Conference Center in Washington, DC. The day will be filled with engaging conversations and exciting networking opportunities with other policy and advocacy professionals. We hope you can join!
The workshop is a FREE event and will serve as a forum for patients, providers, advocacy organizations and other stakeholders to engage in a dialogue around issues regarding hereditary cancers, somatic mutations and biomarkers. Attendees will leave with a better understanding of the role these factors play in prevention and early detection and solutions to improve patient awareness and engagement.
U-Haul unveiled a new hiring policy this week, barring employment for anyone who uses nicotine in any form. The policy will not apply nationally and will only be implemented in the 21 states where the practice is legal. Nicotine-free policies were originally imposed to increase productivity by cutting out smoke breaks for employees, but many companies now cite improving health outcomes and decreasing medical costs.
Some feel the move raises ethical concerns, claiming it will disproportionately impact low-income individuals.
Medical ethicist Harald Schmidt at the University of Pennsylvania commented, “To me, this is more about fair equality of opportunity…You’re basically posing a double whammy on them [low-income people]. It’s very hard for them to get work, and it’s even harder for people who are already in a vulnerable situation.”
Karen Buesing, with the law firm Akerman, frequently works with employers to help create smoking policies. She discussed why some employers seek to decrease nicotine use.
“Employers do have some concern about productivity and absenteeism, but it’s more about the risks of cancer and heart and lung disease. Obviously, there are higher health care costs associated with smokers. And so many companies would much prefer to have a nonsmoking workforce.”
Rising health care costs are a concern for employers, with many researchers estimating the annual cost of coverage for smokers is in the thousands of dollars. On the other hand, denying employment to smokers prevents many from having support services through an employer-sponsored insurance plan. An appropriate solution would be to help smokers who seek to quit without barring them from employment. The Prevent Cancer Foundation® supports the efforts of anyone seeking to quit smoking or engage in healthier habits. Learn more about ways to reduce your risk of cancer.