Shifting Battles in the War on Cancer
Samir Soneji, Dartmouth College
As death rates from other major causes of disease fell over the last forty years, cancer death rates hardly moved. Progress also differed among cancer sites and by sex, race, and other socioeconomic characteristics. We assess time trends in the years of life lost (YLL) due to specific cancers between 1970 and 2005 by sex and race. We also demonstrate how recent increases in YLL due to specific cancers are the result of differential contribution from changes in mortality from those cancers vis-`a-vis from other causes of death. The YLL from cardiovascular disease declined steadily while increased for cancer. YLL differs among cancer sites and is highest for lung cancer, breast, prostate, and colorectal. By decomposing the change in YLL for a specific cancer, we are able to assess the direct impact of that cancer on population health. Progress against lung cancer has been greater for males than females.