Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Article Comments

The Rise In Cancer Rates May Not Mean More Cancer

Several newspapers in the UK reported this week that cancer rates have risen over the past two decades. That set into motion an analysis by the excellent “Behind the Headlines” service offered by the NHS Choices website. They found this in newspapers:

“Cancer rates in the middle-aged “have jumped by almost a fifth in a generation”, according to The Daily Telegraph, which says that the increase “is thought to be mainly due to better detection of cancers rather than people adopting more unhealthy lifestyles”. The Sun takes the alternate view, saying that doctors are “blaming the rise on obesity and home boozing”. The Daily Mail similarly suggests that lifestyle changes are to blame.”

You don’t have to live in the UK to learn from their analysis.

They wrote:

“One factor contributing to these increases is likely to be higher rates of detection due to the NHS breast cancer screening programme and the PSA test for prostate cancer. The raw data behind these stats also needs to be placed into context: these particular cancer diagnosis rates are drawn from the datasets for England from the Office of National Statistics and similar datasets from registries in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The ONS urges caution when interpreting its data, particularly when looking at trends across time, or differences across regions.

For example, since 1993 it has been mandatory for NHS staff to report information on cancer diagnoses to cancer registries. Prior to this, the information may be less complete, and therefore not necessarily reflective of the true rate of cancer. Even for more recent years, cancer registry data may not be complete.”

They also note that “This is part of a new national campaign being launched today by Cancer Research UK, aimed at highlighting the importance of publicly funded research.”

Beware of stats suggesting progress when used to defend funding – my caveat, not theirs.

I recently met in London with the people at Bazian.com who write the “Behind the Headlines” analyses – two each day based on items in the news. It’s a different approach than we take with HealthNewsReview.org, but a complementary one. Recent entries covered topics such as:

• Progress made in growing adult stem cells in lab

• Gene implicated in good and alcohol cravings

• Do diesel fumes raise heart risk?

And the always popular:

• Six to eight glasses of water ‘still best’

It’s a great resource. You may want to bookmark their site.

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*


You may also like these posts

Read comments »


Comments are closed.

Return to article »

Latest Interviews

Caring For Winter Olympians In Sochi: An Interview With Team USA’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gloria Beim

I am a huge fan of the winter Olympics partly because I grew up in Canada where most kids can ski and skate before they can run and partly because I used to participate in Downhill ski racing. Now that I m a rehab physician with a reconstructed knee I…

Read more »

How Do Hospital Executives Feel About Locum Tenens Agencies And Traveling Physicians?

I recently wrote about my experiences as a traveling physician and how to navigate locum tenens work. Today I want to talk about the client in this case hospital side of the equation. I ve had the chance to speak with several executives some were physicians themselves about the overall…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

Unaccountable: A Book About The Underbelly Of Hospital Care

I met Dr. Marty Makary over lunch at Founding Farmers restaurant in DC about three years ago. We had an animated conversation about hospital safety the potential contribution of checklists to reducing medical errors and his upcoming book about the need for more transparency in the healthcare system. Marty was…

Read more »

See all book reviews »