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Release: March 6, 2001

State Health Registry releases Cancer in Iowa: 2001 report

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- An estimated 6,200 Iowans will die from cancer this year and nearly 14,300 additional people in the state will be diagnosed with the disease, according to "Cancer in Iowa: 2001," the annual report issued by the State Health Registry of Iowa, based at the University of Iowa College of Public Health. These projections are similar to those made in prior years.

The report found that the top three cancer sites for male and female adult cancers remain unchanged, said Charles F. Lynch, M.D., Ph.D., UI professor of epidemiology and medical director of the Iowa Cancer Registry.

For adult women, breast cancer remains the most common cancer, followed by cancer of the colon and rectum, and lung cancer. Collectively, the three cancers will account for more than half of all new cancers diagnosed in Iowa women this year.

Prostate, lung, and colon and rectum cancers will account for 60 percent of cancers found in men. Prostate cancer will continue to be the leading type of new cancer in men, with 1,900 new cases expected to be diagnosed among Iowa men in 2001.

Lung cancer will again cause the most deaths in both men and women with cancer. Nearly 1,670 Iowans will die of lung cancer this year.

The report also includes a special section on childhood cancers, finding dramatic increases since 1975 in survival rates for certain cancers affecting those less than 20 years old.

"Over the past 26 years cancer incidence has increased in adults but they have slightly better survival rates," Lynch said. "Over the same period, while newly diagnosed childhood cancers have also increased, mortality from them has appreciably declined."

From 1973-75, compared to 1996-98, cancer incidence for males age 19 or younger increased from 14.1 per 100,000 population to 17.8 per 100,000 population, an increase of 26 percent. Incidence rates for female children over the two same periods were slightly less, 11.9 per 100,000 population (1973-75) and 16.3 per 100,000 population (1996-98), but represented an increase of 37 percent. Over the same periods, childhood cancer deaths declined by nearly half -- about 56 percent for males and 48 percent for females.

Childhood cancers account for about one in every 100 cancers in Iowa. From 1973 through 1998, malignant cancers were newly diagnosed in 3,551 Iowans under the age of 20. During the same period, a total of 330,274 Iowans were diagnosed with cancer.

Lynch noted that while childhood cancers rightly are the cause of great concern, people often think childhood cancer is more common than it really is.

Several different types of cancer comprise pediatric tumors and their frequencies vary with age. The single most common type in both male and female children is acute lymphocytic leukemia and is most often seen in children ages 2 to 5.

"We don't know a lot about the risk factors for acute lymphocytic leukemia, but we know that radiation exposure is a risk," Lynch said. He added that rates of acute lymphocytic leukemia are higher in males than in females and occur at about twice the rate in whites compared with African-Americans.

Astrocytoma, a type of brain cancer, is the second most common type of malignant cancer in Iowa children, based on the 26-year period assessed.

Hodgkin's disease, generally seen in children between ages 15 and 19, is the third leading type of childhood cancers. This disease arises in lymph nodes.

Links to the "Cancer in Iowa: 2001" report and reports from previous years are available at People may also request a copy of the report by calling the State Health Registry of Iowa at (319) 335-8609.

The State Health Registry has been gathering cancer incidence and follow-up data for the state since 1973 and includes projected numbers of new cancer diagnoses and cancer deaths for each county. The registry is one of 10 registries nationwide that provide data to the National Cancer Institute.

For more information about childhood cancer incidence and survival, visit the following report at the Web site of the United States Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program:

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