One goal of the war against cancer is to create declines in cancer mortality rates. A decrease in these rates can only occur in two ways: 1) a decrease in incidence rates and 2) a real increase in overall survival rates. Reductions in incidence rates can be envisioned to occur through three mechanisms (in order of the time course of cancer): 1) reduction or amelioration of environmental or lifestyle risk factors, 2) use of agents that prevent the occurrence of cancer by blocking the progression to cancer, and 3) early detection at a preneoplastic state combined with treatment that prevents or delays progression to invasive cancer. 'True' increases in overall survival can occur by two mechanisms (in order of the time course of cancer): 1) early detection of cancer by screening tests and subsequent effective treatment and 2) advancements in treatment. Unique patterns or 'fingerprints' of stage-specific incidence and overall incidence and of survival rates characterize the various cancer prevention and control mechanisms that can decrease mortality rates. The rates are presented for five organ sites that have shown reduced cancer mortality. The patterns of rates for breast cancer for women under the age of 65 years were most consistent with early detection. The testicular cancer fingerprints were most consistent with advances in treatment, whereas cervical cancer rates were most consistent with the detection of preneoplastic lesions. The stomach cancer fingerprints were indicative of reductions in lifestyle or environmental risks, and colorectal cancer rates were indicative of a combination of treatment advances and early detection. These fingerprint patterns can be extended to other situations in which mortality trends are changing in order to suggest possible causes of observed changes. Limitations of this model are also discussed.
Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research
Choose a citation style from the tabs below