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University of Iowa News Release

March 23, 2004

State Health Registry Reports On "Cancer In Iowa: 2004"

The latest annual report on cancer in Iowa shows that the state will have an estimated 15,200 new cases of the disease this year and 6,500 deaths. The numbers were among other cancer information shared today by the State Health Registry of Iowa, which is based in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Iowa College of Public Health.

The report projections are based on data from the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Iowa Cancer Registry and include county-by-county statistics. The "Cancer in Iowa: 2004" report also includes a feature on the Iowa Consortium for Comprehensive Cancer Control.

More than half of all new cancer cases will be prostate, colon and rectum (colorectal), female breast and lung, said Charles Lynch, M.D., Ph.D., UI professor of epidemiology and medical director of the registry.

"You can't have a significant impact on cancer control without impacting these major cancers," Lynch said. "Fortunately, we are seeing declines in mortality for both female breast cancer and prostate cancer. There also are declines in mortality for cancers that affect the lung, oral cavity and pharynx -- cancers caused primarily by alcohol and tobacco use."

From 1993 to 2002, the death rate in Iowa for female breast cancer declined from 30.2 per 100,000 females to 25.2. Over the same period, prostate cancer deaths in men declined from 36.7 per 100,000 males to 30.1.

Despite the declines, the most common new cancers in females in 2004 will be breast (30 percent), followed by colorectal (14.7 percent) and lung (11.6 percent). The most common types of cancers in males will be prostate (28.6 percent of total new cases in men), lung (14.9 percent) and colorectal (13 percent).

The top three types of projected cancer deaths for men and for women remain unchanged from previous years. For women, leading cancer deaths will be lung, followed by breast and colorectal cancers. For men, the leading cancer deaths will be due to lung, prostate and colorectal cancers.

Efforts to combat cancer deaths and new diagnoses of cancer are getting a boost from the Iowa Consortium for Comprehensive Cancer Control. The consortium, formed in part due to a January 2002 report, "Face of Cancer in Iowa," aims to reduce the burden of cancer in Iowa through prevention, early detection, effective treatment and ensuring quality of life. The consortium includes more than 100 health and other professionals representing nearly 50 agencies throughout the state.

Cancer prevention and control does not depend only on researchers and doctors, said Lynch, one of the experts serving on the consortium.

"Cancer control requires leadership from health professionals but also the cooperation and activism of the people of Iowa," he said.

Lynch emphasized that prevention is an essential -- and "doable" -- means for Iowans to significantly reduce their risk of cancer.

"Thousands of cancer cases are related to improper diet and inactivity, as well as alcohol and tobacco use," Lynch said. "Iowans need to think about interventions for their lifestyle behaviors -- and intervene."

Early detection also plays an important role. Most cancers are treatable if detected early enough, Lynch said. People can do self-examinations for breast and testicular cancer. They also can visit health care providers for mammography for breast cancer; pap smears for cervical cancer; PSA test for prostate cancer; and choose between four different types of screening tests for colorectal cancer.

Clinical trials also offer the public a way both to get screenings and help in efforts to advance screening methods and/or treatments. For example, a national trial for current and former smokers offered through Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI is testing whether screening people with either spiral computed tomography or chest X-ray before they have symptoms might reduce deaths from lung cancer. The screening may detect lung cancer in people who otherwise would not be aware they had the disease.

George Weiner, M.D., a participant in the Iowa Consortium for Comprehensive Cancer Control and director of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, said that moving forward in cancer control depends on progress in basic laboratory research and then translating that new scientific knowledge into patient care.

"The evaluation of promising new approaches to prevention, early detection and treatment of cancer in patients through clinical trials that are both scientific and ethical is at the core of this progress. Without such clinical trials, we will never know for sure which approaches work best," Weiner said.

More than 150 hospitals, clinics and medical laboratories across Iowa, as well as referral facilities in neighboring states, contribute data to the State Health Registry of Iowa. The registry is one of 17 registries nationwide that are currently funded to provide data to the National Cancer Institute. Iowa's registry staff includes 50 members, half of whom are located throughout the state and help collect data from many facilities.

The registry has been gathering cancer incidence and follow-up data for the state since 1973. Links to the "Cancer in Iowa: 2004" report and reports from previous years are available in the "Publications" section at the registry's Web site People may also request a copy of the report by calling the registry at 319-335-8609.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5137 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

For copies of the "Cancer in Iowa: 2004" report, visit the "Publications" section at or call the State Health Registry of Iowa at (319) 335-8609
Media Only: Becky Soglin, 319-335-6660,