Study of natural language processing for genomic biomarkers in Stage IV non-small-cell lung cancer included data from SEER registries
May 6, 2019—JCO Clinical Cancer Informatics Tweet
In a recent study published in JCO Clinical Cancer Informatics, researchers analyzed data from two Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) registries in the development and validation of a natural language processing (NLP) algorithm. SEER data does not include epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) mutation tests, yet the detection of these genomic abnormalities can guide the choice of initial therapy in stage IV non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In the study, electronic pathology (e-path) reports from two SEER registries (Seattle-Puget Sound and Kentucky) helped develop, train, and validate the NLP algorithm. Two medical oncologists also manually reviewed the reports to help generate gold-standard data sets. The NLP algorithm demonstrated high internal validity (ranging from 0.95 to 1.00) and high internal accuracy for the ascertainment of EGFR and ALK test information. However, external validity was lower, and researchers concluded future research could improve the algorithm.
Trends in cervical cancer vary depending on age, race/ethnicity, histological subtype, and stage at diagnosis
April 16, 2019—Preventive Medicine Tweet
In a recent study published in Preventive Medicine, researchers used Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program data in combination with the U.S. Cancer Statistics Incidence Analytic Database to analyze trends in cervical cancer incidence rates in the United States by age, race/ethnicity, histological subtype, and stage at diagnosis. Incidence rates (1999-2015) for cervical squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), the most common type of cervical cancer, continuously decreased in all racial/ethnic groups except among non-Hispanic whites, whose rates stabilized in the 2010s. Incidence rates (2002-2015) for cervical adenocarcinomas among non-Hispanic whites increased, with a steeper increase in middle aged women in more recent years. However, among other racial/ethnic subgroups, incidence rates (1999-2015) for cervical adenocarcinoma decreased or remained stable. Finally, incidence rates of distant stage cervical SCC and adenocarcinoma increased in several age groups among non-Hispanic whites. Researchers highlighted the importance of increasing uptake of screening and HPV vaccination to reverse the increasing adenocarcinoma trend and to accelerate the declining SCC trend.
April 13, 2019—Journal of Health Economics Tweet
In a recent study, researchers used Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program data, in combination with a multitude of other data sources, to examine the health and economic effects of conflict between social schedules and biological needs (also referred to as ‘social jetlag’). The authors classified counties on the eastern side of a time zone boundary as ‘late sunset’ counties because the onset of daylight is generally delayed by an hour. Researchers found this discontinuity in the timing of natural light to have significant effects on health outcomes typically associated with circadian rhythms disruptions and sleep deprivation (obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases; and colorectal, prostate, and breast cancers). The authors assigned health index scores based on these outcomes; late sunset counties had scores .3 standard deviations lower than counties on the other side of the time zone border.
April 9, 2019—Journal of Clinical Oncology Tweet
In a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, lead author Allison Kurian of Stanford along with NCI researchers (Dr. Nadia Howlader, Dr. Angela Mariotto, and Dr. Lynne Penberthy) and colleagues found ovarian and breast cancer patients were undertested for genetic mutations. The analysis included Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program data for women 20 years or older diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer in California and Georgia between 2013 and 2014. The authors linked the SEER data to results from germline cancer genetic testing laboratories. In ovarian cancer patients, 30.9% of women had genetic testing, with rates being lower in blacks and uninsured. Similarly, 24.1% of breast cancer patients had genetic testing, and this rate of testing decreased with increasing age at diagnosis. Among women who underwent genetic testing for all genes indicated in current guidelines, approximately 8% of breast cancer patients and 15% of ovarian cancer patients were identified as carriers of pathogenic variant. These mutations are important to detect as they guide the care that the patient receives: for example, secondary screening or risk-reducing surgery.
March 6, 2019—Nature Medicine Tweet
A recent article published in Nature Medicine outlined the challenges and difficulties associated with collecting data on metastatic cancer. For example, even if a patient is recorded as having metastatic cancer at the time of diagnosis, crucial information such as when the secondary tumor developed, or its location, may still be missing. The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program is leading efforts to help reduce this burden and improve the process of gathering information about metastases. Dr. Lynne Penberthy, the Associate Director of the Surveillance Research Program at the National Cancer Institute, explained that one way the SEER Program is attempting to close these gaps is through the use of machine learning. SEER researchers plan to use machine learning to search patient’s medical files (doctors’ notes, pathology reports, radiology reports, etc.) for key words that could indicate metastases such as ‘bone’ or ‘spread.’ However, the collection of this data is only half the battle; next, researchers and clinicians will need to determine how and when to record metastases so that registries are consistent, reliable, and uniform. The SEER Program is currently working with groups from various countries to develop a standard method of recording data that could be implemented across the world.
February 15, 2019—Cancer Therapy Advisor Tweet
In a study presented at the 2019 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, Dr. Ray-Zack and colleagues compared two treatment methods for muscle-invasive bladder cancer. In particular, they studied survival outcomes and cost of treatment for radical cystectomy and trimodal therapy. The researchers used data from the linked SEER-Medicare database and analyzed about 3,000 bladder cancer cases among patients aged 66 years or older and who were diagnosed from 2002 through 2011; 25 percent of them had undergone trimodal therapy, while 75 percent of them had undergone radical cystectomy. Based on the results, patients who underwent trimodal therapy had significantly decreased cancer-specific survival. Median total costs over six months were also significantly higher for trimodal therapy compared to radical cystectomy. Due to these findings, the researchers suggest that radical cystectomy is a better treatment method compared to trimodal therapy for patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer.
Recent trends in localized prostate cancer management: active surveillance increases, treatment decreases
February 11, 2019—JAMA Tweet
In a study recently published in JAMA, researchers from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute used Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) data to examine US trends in management strategies for localized (low-risk) prostate cancer. There are two common approaches to management of low-risk prostate cancer: treatment (most commonly radical prostatectomy, followed by radiotherapy) or active surveillance/watchful waiting (AS/WW). Researchers used the SEER Prostate Active Surveillance/Watchful Waiting database to analyze data for men with localized prostate cancer (2010-2015) and a known management type. Overall, men diagnosed in 2015 had significantly lower rates of low-risk disease compared to men diagnosed in 2010 (24.5% vs 34.2%, respectively). From 2010 to 2015, AS/WW management strategy increased from 14.5% to 42.1%, while radical prostatectomy and radiotherapy both decreased. This trend coincides with the 2010 national guidelines, which advocated for AS/WW in low-risk prostate cancer patients.
February 11, 2019—HealthDay News Tweet
In a study published in Cancer, researchers investigated the fall in breast cancer mortality rates since 1990, after it increased steadily from 1975 to 1990. Dr. Edward Hendrick and colleagues used mortality and population data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program and included women aged 40 to 84 years old. The study also references work done by the Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (CISNET), a consortium of investigators sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. The researchers found that in 2012, the number of averted breast cancer deaths ranged from about 21,00 to 34,000 averted deaths. In 2015, there were between 24,000 to 39,000 averted deaths, and, in 2018, there were an estimated 27,000 to 46,000 averted deaths. Cumulatively, an estimated 384,000 to 614,000 breast cancer deaths were averted from 1989 to 2018. Due to these findings, the team suggests that these deaths were averted due to screening mammography and improved treatment.
February 3, 2019—The Lancet Tweet
In a recent study published in The Lancet Public Health, researchers from the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute analyzed U.S. cancer incidence trends for 30 common cancers. The team used Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program data from people aged 25-84 years diagnosed with invasive cancers from 01/01/1995-12/31/2014. After grouping the incidence data by 5-year age groups, the authors calculated the age-specific average annual percent change. Between 1995-2014, incidence increased for six (multiple myeloma, colorectal, uterine corpus, gallbladder, kidney, and pancreatic cancer) out of 12 obesity-related cancers in young adults (25-49 years old). Additionally, this increase became steeper, and of greater magnitude, in successively younger generations. Researchers have hypothesized this trend may be influenced by the increasing obesity rates in the United States. In contrast to the obesity-related cancers, during the same time period, incidence increased in only two (gastric non-cardia cancer and leukemia) of the remaining 18 cancers in young adults.
January 28, 2019—JNCI Tweet
In a recent study published in Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers investigated lung cancer risk by linking California and Hawaii Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER) data to the existing Multiethnic Cohort Study (MEC) data. The cohort included five racial/ethnic populations: African Americans, Japanese Americans, Latinos, Native Hawaiians, and whites. The original MEC study found that African Americans and Native Hawaiians had the highest lung cancer risk compared to other races in the cohort. In the updated analysis, researchers included 11 years of additional follow-up, additional questionnaire data, and biomarker data for a subset of current smokers. With these updates and the use of SEER data, the researchers identified 3,014 additional lung cancer cases. Racial differences in the updated analysis were consistent with earlier patterns as demonstrated in the MEC. Specifically, at lower smoking intensity, African Americans and Native Hawaiians had higher risk of smoking-related lung cancer than other races in the cohort. Additionally, African American smokers had the lowest quitting rates, while Japanese Americans had the highest quitting rates. Finally, the biomarker data showed that African Americans uptake greater amounts of nicotine per cigarette compared to the other races. Researchers concluded this biomarker data only explained a portion of the racial differences in the risk of lung cancer, and therefore additional study of other biomarkers is necessary.
January 25, 2019—OncLive Tweet
In a study commissioned by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, researchers aimed to identify the total healthcare allowed spending, defined as amounts paid by insurance payers and patients combined, and patient out-of-pocket costs before and after the diagnosis of a blood cancer. The researchers cited the SEER database, including that blood cancer-related deaths decreased by more than 2 percent from 2011 to 2015, to emphasize the need to understand healthcare cost burdens faced by blood cancer survivors. This longitudinal study included 2,332 patients who were diagnosed in 2014 with one of five blood cancer categories – acute leukemia, chronic leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and bone marrow disorders – and who were covered by commercial insurance. The researchers found that one year after diagnosis, the average annual allowed spending per patient was $156,000. High spending persisted beyond the first year, and allowed spending did not return to pre-diagnosis levels ($1,600 per month or lower pre-diagnosis compared to between $3,500 to $4,500 per month in the third year after diagnosis). The researchers also found that: 1) services that drive total allowed spending differ from those that drive patient out-of-pocket costs; 2) very high spending occurs immediately after diagnosis, largely due to inpatient hospital costs; and 3) patient out-of-pocket costs are high and are impacted by plan type and month of diagnosis. Due to these findings, the researchers suggest that some patients, including those with high-deductible plans, will face financial toxicity and that insurance payers could help alleviate this issue by providing financial counseling to such individuals. Additionally, it is important to work toward solutions that address the unsustainable cost of care for blood cancer patients.
January 15, 2019—The Philadelphia Inquirer Tweet
In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers aimed to identify cancer types with the highest risk of suicide. Dr. Nicholas Zaorsky and colleagues used SEER data from patients who were diagnosed with cancer between 1973 and 2014; the study included more than 8.6 million patients. In this retrospective study, the authors found that the risk of suicide among cancer patients is four times that of the general population. The patients at highest risk of suicide were predominantly male, white, and/or diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma or cancer of the bladder, head and neck, lung, or testes. Most suicides occurred in adults older than age 50 years and who had been diagnosed with prostate, lung, colorectum, or bladder cancer. Due to these findings, the researchers suggest that suicide prevention strategies should be targeted toward cancer patients at highest risk of suicide. Providers should follow related guidelines from institutions such as the American College of Surgeons Committee on Cancer or American Society of Clinical Oncology.
January 14, 2019—Reuters Health Tweet
In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers aimed to quantify the complication rates and costs associated with invasive diagnostic procedures for lung abnormalities provided in the community setting compared to the clinical trial setting. The National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance Research Program funded this retrospective cohort study. It included more than 344,000 patients aged 55 to 77 years who underwent invasive diagnostic procedures between 2008 and 2013. The authors found that the complication rates for procedures provided in the community setting were two times higher in both younger and older age groups than those reported in a clinical trial called the National Lung Screening Trial (22.2% and 23.8% compared to 9.8% and 8.5%, respectively). The average costs of complications were $6,320 for minor complications and $56,845 for major complications. Due to these findings, the researchers suggest that both physicians and patients should be aware of and consider in their shared decision-making process the potential risk of complications and related costs for lung cancer screening.
January 8, 2019—Wiley Online Library Tweet
In a recent study published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, American Cancer Society researchers summarized recent cancer incidence and mortality trends. Sources such as the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), and the National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR) were all included in the analysis. The SEER Program provided the only source of historic population-based incidence data (1975-2015). Researchers concluded the cancer incidence rate (2006‐2015) declined approximately 2% per year in men, and remained stable in women. However, over this time, incidence rates increased for melanoma and cancers of the thyroid, breast, uterus, pancreas, and liver (liver cancer incidence rising the fastest compared to all other cancers for men and women). Regarding mortality, the overall cancer death rate (2007‐2016) declined in both men and women (1.8% per year in men; 1.4% per year in women). From 1991 to 2016, cancer death rates fell a total of 27%. Researchers have long attributed this tremendous decline in cancer mortality to reductions in smoking, advancements in early detection, and improved medical advances. The team from ACS also highlighted the growing socioeconomic inequalities: mortality rates for preventable cancers were disproportionately higher in the poorest counties compared to the most affluent counties.
January 7, 2019—HealthDay News Tweet
In a study published in Cancer, researchers investigated suicide risk within the year after a cancer diagnosis. Dr. Ahmad Samir Alfaar and colleagues used SEER data on patients who were diagnosed with cancer between 2000 and 2014; the study included more than 4.6 million patients. In this retrospective study, the authors found that suicide risk increased significantly in the first year after a diagnosis of cancer in comparison with the general population. The suicide risk increased the most for patients diagnosed with pancreatic or lung cancers. There was also a significant increase in suicide risk for patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Suicide risk did not increase significantly for patients diagnosed with breast or prostate cancers. Essentially, suicide rates were higher for cancers with a poor prognosis. Due to these findings, the researchers suggest that it is important for healthcare providers to screen newly diagnosed patients for their risk of suicide and ensure that patients have access to social and emotional support.
December 27, 2018—JAMA Oncology Tweet
An estimated 1 in 17 cancers diagnosed in the United States between 2011 and 2015 in adults 30 years or older can be attributed to excess body weight (EBW). In a recent article published in JAMA Oncology, researchers analyzed data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program and National Program of Cancer Registries (NCPR) to estimate the EBW-related cancer burden by state. Between 2011 and 2015, 4.7% of cancers in men, and 9.6% of cancers in women were attributable to EBW. The percent of obesity-related cancers varied by state, with rates for men and women being highest in the District of Columbia (population attributable fraction (PAF) = 8.3%) and lowest in Hawaii (PAF = 5.9%). Overall, 13 different cancer types are associated with EBW. As prevalence of obesity has increased over the past 40 years, researchers suspect the burden of EBW will increase over time. Researchers highlighted the importance of obesity prevention through healthy diet, exercise, and policy change.
December 20, 2018—NCI Press Release Tweet
In a study published in JAMA Oncology, researchers at the National Cancer Institute investigated the levels of risk that patients who receive chemotherapy for solid tumors face for certain complications, including therapy-related myelodysplastic syndrome or acute myeloid leukemia (tMDS/AML). Dr. Lindsay Morton and colleagues used SEER-Medicare data for patients, ages 66-84, who: (1) were diagnosed with their first primary solid cancer during 2000 to 2013, (2) received initial chemotherapy for that cancer during that time frame, and (3) survived one year or more without developing a second cancer. The study authors found that cancer patients with 22 of the 23 solid cancers studied and who were treated with chemotherapy were at increased risk for developing tMDS/AML. The risk ranged from a 1.5- to 10-fold increased risk for the complications. Additionally, the team found that the risk for tMDS/AML was greatest following chemotherapy for bone, soft tissue, and testis cancer, which were typically diagnosed in younger patients. Due to these findings, the researchers suggest efforts be continued to reduce treatment-related adverse effects, especially for solid cancer patients with a favorable prognosis. Effective and less toxic chemotherapy treatments also need to be developed.
Multigene panel testing vs BRCA1/2-only testing: No substantial difference in patient cancer-related
December 19, 2018—JCO Precision Oncology Tweet
In a recent study published in JCO Precision Oncology, researchers found that multigene panel (MGP) testing after breast cancer diagnosis was not associated with increased cancer-related worry when compared to BRCA1/2-only testing. The research team used Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program data from women ages 20-79 years old who were diagnosed with stages 0 to II breast cancer in the Georgia or Los Angeles County SEER registries. Study participants completed a survey which measured worry about future cancer: impact of cancer worry was the primary outcome, and frequency of cancer worry was also measured. Then the investigators merged survey responses with SEER clinical data and genetic testing information from laboratories. Approximately 60% of the sample received BRCA1/2-only testing, and 40% received MGP testing. A minority of participants reported significant cancer worry after treatment (approximately 11% reported high impact of cancer worry and 15% reported high frequency of cancer worry). In sum, researchers concluded that cancer worry (impact and frequency) did not differ by the type of genetic testing performed.
December 18, 2018—JAMA Tweet
According to a recent study published in JAMA, black men with Gleason 6 disease were twice as likely to die from prostate cancer compared to nonblack men. Researchers analyzed data for men diagnosed with localized prostate cancer from 2010 to 2015 in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Prostate Active Surveillance/Watchful Waiting (AS/WW) database and investigated mortality by Gleason score and race. No significant racial difference was found in Gleason 7 to 10 disease. Racial disparities were most notable in patients with Gleason 6 disease (considered to be a low-grade disease): prostate cancer mortality was higher in black patients (0.40%) compared to nonblack patients (0.22%). Low-grade prostate cancer may be more aggressive in black men compared to nonblack men. Lead author Brandon Mahal, MD suspects several factors are also involved, highlighting the importance of further studies in this area.
December 13 10, 2018—Idaho State Journal Tweet
Cancer Data Registry of Idaho, one of the newest participants in the SEER Program, released promising new data from 2016 and 2017. According to an article in the Idaho State Journal article, the state’s preliminary report from 2017 has its lowest rate of new cancer cases so far this century. Dr. Daniel Miller, a radiation oncologist, noted that most of the rates are similar to national data. Specifically, breast cancer was the most common new diagnosis among all types of cancer, and lung cancer was the deadliest type of cancer in Idaho. Dr. Miller also reported that Idaho now has better systemic treatment options, helping reduce mortality rates as well.
December 3, 2018—The Washington Post Tweet
If you are widowed, divorced, or unmarried, you may be getting less aggressive cancer treatment, says a Washington Post article. The author, Joan DelFattore, PhD, analyzed findings from 59 studies that used SEER data; she found that significant differences exist in treatment rates between married and unmarried patients. Dr. DelFattore says a proposed explanation that single patients do not get aggressive treatments like surgery because they refuse it does not hold up to scrutiny. Instead, she suggests that a stereotyped portrayal of unmarried adults linked to physician prescribing practices may play a role. For example, a physician who believes unmarried patients are less prepared to handle aggressive treatments due to a lack of social support may prescribe milder treatment instead. The author suggests that caution should be taken when conflating unmarried status with factors like depression and social isolation because 1) the majority of unmarried people are not depressed and 2) marriage is not the only source of social support. To avoid potential fallacies, physicians can ask patients about nontraditional support before determining treatment, talk about their treatment decision-making, or frame discussions in terms of what the patient actually needs. An interdisciplinary team approach that combines physicians’ oncology expertise with social scientists’ understanding of discrepancies based on marital status may also be beneficial.
December 7, 2018—CDC Tweet
Although incidence and mortality rates are decreasing for a majority of cancers nationwide, uterine cancer rates are increasing. In a recent article published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), S. Jane Henley and colleagues analyzed Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program data to assess recent trends in uterine cancer incidence and mortality by race and ethnicity. Researchers found that overall uterine cancer incidence rates increased 0.7% per year (1999-2015), and mortality rates increased 1.1% per year (1999–2016). Black women were disproportionately affected: compared to rates for other racial/ethnic groups, incidence, mortality, and rates of distant stage cancers were high among black women. White women had the same incidence rate but a lower mortality rate. One possible explanation for the increase in incidence is the nation’s high prevalence of obesity: women who are overweight or obese are between two to four times as likely to develop uterine cancer compared to women with healthy weight.
October 10, 2018—NBC Los Angeles Tweet
California is experiencing an accelerated reduction in smoking rates compared to the rest of the country due to their long-standing tobacco control initiatives. In a recent study published in Cancer Prevention Research, Dr. John Pierce and colleagues examined the differences in smoking behavior trends in California and the United States to help inform lung cancer research. Investigators analyzed data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program to assess smoking initiation, intensity, and quitting behaviors. Researchers found that Californians aged 18-35 smoked at lower rates than national levels, and of those who smoked, they smoked fewer cigarettes and had higher quit rates by age 35. They also found that annual lung cancer mortality in California declined faster, and by 2013 was 28% lower than in the rest of the United States. Authors concluded that because of California’s major tobacco control initiatives, the lung cancer mortality gap between California and the rest of the country will continue to widen. Additionally, researchers suggest that California’s approach to target smoking behaviors should direct cessation programs for the nation to help reduce lung cancer deaths.
August 23, 2018—The Washington Post Tweet
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) summarizing trends in human papillomavirus (HPV) associated cancers between 1999-2015. The CDC analyzed data from its National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR) and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program. The researchers found that HPV-associated cancers rose from 30,115 incident cases in 1999, to 43,371 incident cases in 2015. Specifically, rates of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), anal SCC, and vulvar SCC all increased from 1999-2015. Hypothesized reasons for these rate increases include changes in sexual behaviors and lack of recommended screening for these specific HPV-associated cancers. In contrast, rates of cervical carcinoma and vaginal SCC have decreased over the same time period. The combination of recommendations for cervical cancer screenings and an overall increase in HPV vaccination rates is thought to have influenced these declining rates. Although HPV vaccination initiation rates have increased an average of 5.1% each year since 2013, only 53% of girls and 44% of boys receive all recommended doses. Due to these findings, the authors suggest improving vaccination coverage and conducting further research to understand the progression from HPV infection to cancer.
July 23, 2018—Reuters Health Tweet
In a study published in Cancer, researchers found that the financial toxicity that many cancer patients face is not being sufficiently addressed by health care providers. Those with cancer face financial burdens through disruptions in employment, out-of-pocket costs associated with care, and more. Dr. Reshma Jagsi, Dr. Kevin C. Ward, Paul H. Abrahamse, and colleagues surveyed patients with early-stage breast cancer as identified through the sampling of two Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program regions. Responses were collected from 370 surgeons, 306 medical oncologists, 169 radiation oncologists, and 2,502 patients. Of the medical oncologists, 50.9% of respondents reported that someone in their practice often discusses the financial burdens with their patients, along with 15.6% of surgeons and 43.2% of radiation oncologists. However, a lower percentage of responding medical providers are truly aware of the out-of-pocket costs, and patients are still left with unmet needs for engagement with physicians regarding financial concerns. The authors believe that more clinician engagement and communication regarding financial toxicity is necessary to help patients combat financial burdens in addition to battling cancer itself.
July 3, 2018—Reuters Health Tweet
In a study published in JAMA Surgery, researchers found that genetic testing after a breast cancer diagnosis varies due to differences among surgeon attitudes. Genetic testing helps to inform treatment decisions, as well as risk reduction decisions. Dr. Steven J. Katz, Irina Bondarenko, Dr. Kevin C. Ward and colleagues performed an analysis using data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program, surveys of patients and surgeons, and testing information from laboratories. The team surveyed 5,080 women who were treated for early-stage breast cancer. Of these patients, 35% had an elevated risk of carrying a genetic mutation, yet only 27% of the study patients received genetic testing. In addition, only 52% of women at a higher risk of carrying genetic mutations received genetic testing. Due to these results, the authors believe that outreach to surgeons is necessary to build a consensus regarding approaches to genetic risk evaluation and results management.
June 10, 2018—U.S. News Tweet
The National Cancer Institute led this year’s Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, published last month in Cancer. Dr. Serban Negoita of NCI’s Data Quality, Analysis and Interpretation Branch is the lead author of Part II of the report, which contains updated prostate cancer trends. Staff Writer for U.S. News & World Report Michael O. Shroeder highlights findings from this section, including that age-adjusted prostate cancer death rates have remained stable at around 19 per 100,000 persons in recent years. Researchers also found that although the incidence of prostate cancer is declining, the rate of late-stage prostate cancer increased between 2010-2014. These findings open further discussion on the benefits and risks of screening, as well as the importance of “watchful waiting” after a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer. This entails closely monitoring the cancer, yet only taking treatment action when necessary.
June 7, 2018—Wiley Online Library Tweet
In a study published in Cancer, researchers found that although patients with cancer in rural areas reported more timely care than those diagnosed in urban areas, racial/ethnic minorities in rural areas reported barriers to accessing such care. Dr. Michelle A. Mollica, Dr. Kathryn E. Weaver, Timothy S. McNeel, and Dr. Erin E. Kent examined SEER-CAHPS data and a total of 6,826 surveys of patients with breast, lung, colorectal, or prostate cancers. The SEER-CAHPS dataset is a resource used for quality of care research based on a collaboration between the NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) cancer registry data and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Medicare Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) patient surveys. The authors found that although patients who live in rural areas report more timely care than those in urban areas overall, discrepancies may be found regarding access and race/ethnicity. More specifically, patients who identified as non-Hispanic black and Hispanic rated their care as lower in rural areas compared with urban areas. Accessing care in rural areas may be more difficult for racial/ethnic minorities, and more research should examine specific barriers that could otherwise ensure equitable access.
May 10, 2018—Jama Oncology Tweet
A recent study published in JAMA Oncology found that while multigene testing is becoming more common for breast cancer patients than the older two-gene BRCA1/2 test, there has not been an increase in prophylactic surgery. Researchers led by Dr. Allison W. Kurian from Stanford University’s School of Medicine analyzed SEER data from 1,316 women in Georgia and Los Angeles who were diagnosed with early stage breast cancer between 2013 and 2015. BRCA1/2 mutations were still the most common result associated with prophylactic mastectomies; 79% of women with BRCA mutations underwent prophylactic mastectomies, compared to 35.3% with no mutations. Patients with other known pathogenic variants, and a variant of unknown significance (VUS), decided to undergo prophylactic surgery at rates of 37.6% and 30.2%, respectively. Unlike the BRCA1/2-only test, multigene testing is more common after surgery. Dr. Kurian says results from multigene sequencing need to be addressed earlier to better guide surgical decisions. The study also found that a VUS is higher in black and Asian patients at 44.5% and 50.9%, respectively, compared to white patients at 23.7%. Dr. Kurian went on to say that additional research should be done since VUS rates among racial-ethnic minorities are significantly higher.
April 18, 2018—Jama Dermatology Tweet
In a recent study published in JAMA Dermatology, Dr. Giorgos Karakousis and Cimarron Sharon of the University of Pennsylvania found that there is a correlation between the stage melanoma skin cancer is diagnosed and relationship status. The researchers analyzed SEER data from 52,063 patients diagnosed with melanoma between 2010-2014, looking specifically at tumor stage at diagnosis and marital status. It was determined that 46% of patients diagnosed at stage 1 of the disease were married, followed by 43% who were never married, 39% who were divorced, and 32% who were widowed. The study authors also found that patients who had never been married were 12% more likely to be diagnosed at late stage disease; divorced patients were 34% more likely and widowed patients were nearly 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with late stage disease. One hypothesis is that a spouse helps detect new or changing moles and is also likely to encourage visits to have moles examined. Dr. Karakousis says that everyone should get skin exams routinely, and that dermatologists should suggest more frequent visits for patients without spouses.
March 27, 2018—ABC News Tweet
At the 49th Society of Gynecologic Oncology Annual Meeting, researchers from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham proposed an update to screening guidelines for cervical cancer, citing their recent study; using SEER data and the National Cancer Database (NCDB), Dr. Sarah Dilley and colleagues found that between 2000-2014, about 1 in every 5 new cervical cancer cases were among women 65 years old and older. Currently, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends only women between the ages of 21-65 get tested for cervical cancer by Pap smear and HPV testing. Dr. Dilley noted that the population of women over 65 is increasing due to longer life expectancy, and suggested that governing bodies such as the USPSTF reconsider changing screening guidelines to include this expanding age group.
March 30, 2018—Health Day Editor Tweet
The overall lung cancer mortality has declined steadily in the United States since 1990, however the decrease in deaths among women did not start until the mid-2000s. In a recent study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, researchers examined county-level changes in lung cancer-related deaths among women between 1990-1999 and 2006-2015. Katherine Ross and colleagues used the SEER*Stat database to obtain lung cancer-related death rates and the SEER*Stat software to compute age-standardization, absolute change, and relative change calculations. They identified two distinct clusters of counties in Appalachia and the Midwest (Hotspot 1) and the northern Midwest (Hotspot 2) where death rates among women increased. From 1990-1999 to 2006-2015, lung cancer-related death rates increased 13% in Hotspot 1 and 7% in Hotspot 2, while rates decreased 6% in the rest of the United States. Researchers speculate that the excess burden of lung cancer deaths in these hotspots relates to lower cigarette taxes in the regions, as well as a lack of comprehensive smoke-free air laws. Due to these findings, researchers suggest the implementation of targeted tobacco control programs at the county, state, and federal level to reduce smoking prevalence and prevent the widening of geographic inequity for lung cancer-related death.
March 15, 2018—The New York Times Tweet
Blacks comprise only 12% of the total population in the United States, yet have the highest cancer mortality rates and shortest survival of all racial/ethnic groups for most cancers. In a recent report, researchers from the American Cancer Society (ACS) analyzed cancer incidence, mortality, and survival data from a combination of sources, including the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program, to describe the disproportionate burden of cancer among blacks. Additionally, ACS’ Carol DeSantis and colleagues reviewed data on cancer risk factors, such as the use of tobacco and chronic human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which may increase a person’s lifetime risk of developing cancer. For men, researchers found that incidence rates for all cancers combined were 12% higher for blacks than whites, and mortality rates were 27% higher for black men. For women, they found that blacks had a lower risk of cancer diagnosis but a higher risk of death than whites. Most significantly, despite lower incidence rates, black women with uterine and breast cancer had morality rates that were 42% and 92% higher than white women, respectively. Due to these findings, continuing to address the complex socioeconomic factors that lead to cancer disparities is necessary to create better outcomes for all populations.
March 12, 2018—Health Day Editor Tweet
In a recent study published in Cancer, researchers investigated whether socioeconomic status is predictive of survival among patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the anus (SCCA). Dr. Daniel Becker and colleagues used SEER-18 data on SCCA diagnoses between 2004-2013 and median household income (MHI) data collected by the American Community Survey. The study authors found that socioeconomic status does predict survival outcomes in patients with SCCA, with lower survival associated with patients living in lower MHI areas compared to patients living in higher MHI areas. The team also found that the risk of cancer death was higher among patients who were black, diagnosed at an earlier year, diagnosed with more advanced cancer, male, of older age, or unmarried. Due to these findings, the researchers suggest that one’s social environment plays a significant role in cancer outcomes. Anal cancer can be highly treatable and curable, and policy interventions and increased awareness, resources, and access to care could reduce cancer mortality in groups at higher risk for SCCA.
January 31, 2018—JAMA Dermatology Tweet
A recent study published in JAMA Dermatology found that rates of melanoma decreased significantly in younger white adults (men age <45 and women age <35), but increased in older white adults (men age >54 years and women age >44 years). Dawn Holman and colleagues from the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control at the CDC used both NCI’s SEER data and the CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries in the 10-year study, and found that melanoma incidence ranged from 2.0 per 100,000 to 198.3 per 100,000 in white Americans ages 15-24 and 85 years old and older, respectively. Less exposure to UV radiation through indoor tanning and the decline in sunburn cases in recent years among teenagers and young adults are contributing factors to the decline. For older adults, age is a major determining factor in developing melanoma. According to Holman, the upswing in melanoma cases could be directly linked to older patients being more aware of melanoma and practicing total-body skin exams to monitor the disease. Doctors are encouraged to inform patients about using protective clothing, seeking shade, and using sunscreen with SPF 15+ to protect their skin from the sun.
January 9, 2018—UPI Tweet
In the United States, breast cancer mortality has steadily declined over the years, yet it is unclear to what extent advances in screening and treatment have contributed to the observed population-level mortality decline. In a recent study published in JAMA, Dr. Sylvia Plevritis and colleagues analyzed the impact of improved screening and adjuvant treatment on the reduction in breast cancer mortality by molecular subtype based on estrogen-receptors (ERs) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (ERBB2). Researchers projected breast cancer mortality trends, for women aged 30 to 79, using six independent, simulated Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Network (CISNET) models. The National Cancer Institute sponsors CISNET. Overall, advances in screening and treatment reduced breast cancer mortality by 37% in 2000 and 49% in 2012. Researchers also found that declines in mortality rates differed by molecular subtype. Due to these findings, study investigators suggest continued use of model-based approaches to evaluate population-level progress in the reduction of breast cancer and the dissemination of molecularly targeted therapies, as well as tailored prevention and early detection methods for breast cancer molecular subtypes to reduce the burden of disease.
January 4, 2018—TIME Health Tweet
The American Cancer Society (ACS) recently published their annual report, which compiles the most recent data on cancer incidence, mortality, and survival in the United States. ACS’s Rebecca Siegel and colleagues projected cancer incidence and mortality rates using data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program, the National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR), the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR), and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Researchers estimated that there would be 1,735,350 new cancer cases and 609,640 cancer deaths in the United States in 2018. They also found that the combined cancer death rate dropped 26% between 1991 and 2015, which translates to approximately 2.4 million fewer cancer deaths. This observed decline was the result of a combination of factors, including the reduction in smoking rates and improved treatment options. However, investigators continued to find substantial racial, socioeconomic, and geographic disparities in cancer incidence and mortality. Due to these findings, researchers suggest delivering a broader application of existing cancer control knowledge across all segments of the population, with an emphasis on disadvantaged groups, to reduce cancer disparities and burden.
December 11, 2017—Newsweek Tweet
In a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers examined recent trends of women with breast cancer who use chemotherapy treatment. This study was conducted because little is known about changes in chemotherapy use and oncologists’ recommendations in recent years. The authors of this retrospective study looked at female patients from the SEER registries of Georgia and Los Angeles County who had been diagnosed between 2013-2015 with stages 0-II and estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. Dr. Allison Kurian and colleagues surveyed more than 5,000 of these women and over 500 oncologists who treated them. The researchers found that chemotherapy use declined from 35 percent to 21 percent between 2013-2015. Additionally, while 45 percent of the oncologists recommended their patients get chemotherapy in 2013, this number declined to 32 percent in 2015. If a patient decided against her oncologist’s chemotherapy recommendation, oncologists were more likely to order tumor genetic tests to understand the likelihood of the patient having a recurrence of cancer. Due to these findings, the study authors suggest that oncologists are attempting to be more selective in their recommendations for chemotherapy use and to spare patients from toxicity when possible. Future studies will be needed to confirm the quality of this approach to breast cancer.
December 5, 2017—HealthDay News Tweet
In a recent study published in JAMA Oncology, researchers used the California Cancer Registry (CCR) to analyze cancer survival trends from January 1997 to December 2014 by health insurance status for the five most common cancers in California: melanoma, breast, prostate, lung, and colorectal. The National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program supported the collection of cancer incidence data used in this study. Dr. Libby Ellis and colleagues found that compared to those with private insurance, those with public insurance and those who were uninsured had higher mortality rates and were more likely to have advanced stage disease at diagnosis. The largest survival disparities were among men with melanoma; mortality was 92% higher for men who were uninsured and 37% higher for those with public insurance. The team also found significant disparities by insurance status for patients with breast, prostate, lung, and colorectal cancer. Due to these findings, researchers emphasize the need for all patients to have access to health insurance that covers all aspects of care, including prevention, early detection, and timely treatment. Having appropriate and quality healthcare will help reduce the growing survival disparities seen among cancer patients.
December 5, 2017—HealthDay News Tweet
Researchers from the University of Kentucky examined the association between lung cancer incidence rates and the strength of smoke-free laws. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Cigarette smoking and secondhand smoke exposure cause most lung cancers; reducing smoking and exposure could prevent many deaths from this disease. Dr. Ellen Hahn and colleagues used data from the Kentucky Cancer Registry, a SEER registry, and looked at cases of lung cancers newly diagnosed from 1995 to 2014. The team analyzed more than 80,000 cases by county-level characteristics, including the strength of smoke-free laws in the county from 1995 to 2014, the average annual adult smoking rate, and other population demographics. Individuals living in counties with comprehensive smoke-free laws were about 8 percent less likely than those living in counties without smoke-free protections to be diagnosed with lung cancer. There was not a significant difference in lung cancer incidence between counties with moderate or weak laws and counties without smoke-free laws. Due to these findings, the study authors suggest that local government may be key in preventing lung cancer by passing comprehensive smoke-free laws that cover all workers and the public with few or no exceptions.
November 28, 2017—The ASCO Post Tweet
In a recent study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, researchers examined the risks of aging-related diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, among thyroid cancer survivors. In the United States, thyroid cancer is the most rapidly increasing cancer. It is one of the most common cancers among people under age 40 and has high survival. Dr. Mia Hashibe and colleagues looked at 3,706 thyroid cancer cases diagnosed between 1997 to 2012 and used SEER data from the Utah Cancer Registry. These cases were matched to 15,587 cancer-free individuals who served as controls in the study. The researchers found that both younger and older thyroid cancer survivors had an increased risk for aging-related diseases. However, those survivors younger than age 40 had a higher risk for cardiomyopathy, hypertension, nutritional deficiencies, and osteoporosis compared to older survivors. Due to these findings, the study authors suggest that further studies are needed to assess how to reduce the increased risks of these long-term health effects.
November 22, 2017—HealthDay News Tweet
Advances in cancer care, such as improvements in cancer treatment and the expansion of screening efforts, have allowed patients to live longer. As a result, the number of cancer survivors in the United States has grown rapidly, yet there is inadequate research about the risk of developing future cancer among survivors. In a recent study published in JAMA Oncology, researchers examined the prevalence of prior cancer among 740,900 persons newly diagnosed with cancer between January 2009 and December 2013. Dr. Caitlin Murphy and colleagues identified cases using the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program of cancer registries. They evaluated the prevalence of prior cancer by age (<65 years vs ≥ 65 years) and incident cancer type, finding that a considerable proportion of newly diagnosed cancer patients had survived a previous cancer. The overall prevalence of prior cancer ranged from 3.5% to 36.9% depending on age and incident cancer type. Many prior cancers also occurred at a different cancer site. For those over age 65, 25.2% had a previous history of cancer compared to 11% of those under age 65. For all ages, prior cancer was most prevalent among incident myeloid and monocytic leukemia; 24.8% for those under age 65 and 36.9% for those over age 65. However, these figures may be a significant underestimation because cancer registries only capture cases in which the second primary cancer occurred in the same state. Cancer registries do not currently share data about primary cancer cases that occurred in two different states. Due to these findings, and the growing cancer survivor population, researchers signify the importance of understanding the nature and impact of prior cancer to improve disease outcomes and patient experience, and to help shape the direction of future research.
National Cancer Institute Awards Dr. Ruth Etzioni 5-Year Grant to Fill Gaps in Cancer-Recurrence Data
November 10, 2017—The ASCO Post Tweet
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) awarded Ruth Etzioni, PhD, a five-year grant to create an approach to identify metastatic cancer recurrence. This is an area that the NCI has pinpointed as a gap in cancer surveillance. The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program currently does not collect information in metastatic cancer recurrence, but does provides detailed information about cancer diagnosis, primary treatment information, and survival. Through this award, Dr. Etzioni, a biostatician at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s Public Health Sciences Division, will use cancer records from the Puget Sound SEER Registry’s Fred Hutch–housed Cancer Surveillance System and other health data to create an algorithm that can be used to predict metastatic recurrence. This algorithm will then be tested within the Kentucky Cancer Registry to see how the results match up against gold-standard recurrence data gleaned from the electronic health records of the University of Kentucky. According to Dr. Etzioni, cancer recurrence data is necessary to understand the burden of cancer and to study the effectiveness of cancer treatments outside of controlled clinical trials.
October 3, 2017—The Washington Post Tweet
Breast cancer is the most common invasive cancer in the United States, with 252,710 new cases expected in 2017. In a recent study, researchers from the American Cancer Society (ACS) provided an overview of breast cancer incidence, mortality, survival, and screening by race, ethnicity, and state between 1975 and 2015. They used combined data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR) and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program. ACS’ Carol DeSantis and colleagues computed calculations with NCI’s SEER*Stat software, finding that overall breast cancer mortality rates dropped 39% since 1989, after increasing 0.4% per year from 1975-1989. This translates to 322,600 averted breast cancer deaths in the United States. However, a woman still has roughly a 1-in-8 chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime, and not all women have benefited equally from improvements over time. Black women continue to have higher mortality rates, are more likely to have advanced stage disease, and are younger at age of diagnosis. Furthermore, investigators found that there is significant variation in breast cancer screening, incidence, and mortality rates by state. A complex interaction of socioeconomic, structural, and biological factors contributes to the disparities seen in breast cancer. Due to these findings, researchers suggest improving access to care in all states, for all populations, to help eliminate breast cancer disparities and enhance outcomes.
October 3, 2017—HealthDay News Tweet
Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Cancer Institute (NCI) examined trends in cancers that are associated with being overweight or obese. These include cancers of the breast, colon and rectum, endometrium, esophagus, gallbladder, gastric cardia, kidney, liver, ovary, pancreas, and thyroid, in addition to meningioma and multiple myeloma. Between 2013-2014, about one-third of adults in the United States were overweight and about one-third were obese. Dr. C. Brooke Steele and colleagues used cancer incidence data between 2005-2014 from SEER and the CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries. They found that being overweight or obese was associated with 40 percent of all cancers diagnosed in 2014, or about 631,000 cancer cases. Cancers related to being overweight or obese were more likely to affect older people, females, and non-Hispanic white and black adults. Incidence rates for these cancers increased between 2005-2014 among people ages 20-74 and decreased among those 75 years old and older. Due to these findings, the researchers concluded that the burden of cancers associated with being overweight and obese is high in the United States and that this burden might be reduced with cancer prevention efforts such as maintaining a healthy diet and staying active.
September 25, 2017—Reuters Health Tweet
In a study published in JAMA, researchers examined how much influence surgeons have on patients’ choices to receive contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM), removal of both breasts when cancer is found in only one. CPM rates have increased over the last decade. Surgeons play a large role in advising newly diagnosed breast cancer patients on treatment decisions, and little is known regarding how much their influence contributes to these rates. Dr. Steven Katz and colleagues surveyed 5,080 women from the SEER registries of Georgia and Los Angeles County who had early-stage breast cancer and received surgical treatment in 2013 to 2015. They found that surgeons’ attitudes were strongly linked to whether their patients received CPM. Surgeons who least favored breast conserving therapy (BCT) and were more willing to perform CPM had a 34 percent CPM rate, whereas surgeons who favored BCT and were less willing to perform CPM had a 4 percent CPM rate. Due to these findings, the researchers suggest that surgeons influence the likelihood that a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient will receive CPM. Patients should discuss their options thoroughly to make informed decisions that meet their goals and values.
September 18, 2017—Reuters Tweet
More than 40% of people living with human immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV) in the United States smoke cigarettes, which twice exceeds the prevalence in the general population. In a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers projected cumulative lung cancer mortality rates, by age 80, among people living with HIV who smoked cigarettes and were adherent on antiretroviral (ART) medication. In this study, supported by the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Krishna Reddy and colleagues used the Cost-Effectiveness of Preventing AIDS Complications (CEPAC)-U.S. model to estimate the odds of dying from lung cancer based on smoking status and starting HIV care at age 40. Researchers found that those living with HIV who consistently followed ART, but continued to smoke, were 6 to 13 times more likely to die from lung cancer than from AIDS-related causes. Cumulative lung cancer mortality for men who smoked at heavy, moderate, and light rates was 28.9%, 23.0%, and 18.8%, respectively. For women, the rates were slightly lower at 27.8%, 20.9%, and 16.6%. The respective rates for those who quit smoking decreased to 7.9%, 6.1%, and 4.3% for men, and 7.5%, 5.2%, and 3.7% for women. For those who had never smoked the cumulative lung cancer mortality was just 1.2%. Due to these findings, and the high prevalence of smoking in this population, researchers suggest that smoking for individuals in this group is a greater threat to health than HIV itself, and that smoking cessation should be a priority in HIV care.
September 13, 2017—Reuters Health Tweet
In a study published in The Lancet, researchers from the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital examined the cumulative burden of chronic health conditions (CHCs) experienced by long-term survivors of childhood cancer. According to SEER, 10-year survival for childhood cancer is now more than 80 percent, and so the population of its survivors continues to increase. Dr. Nickhill Bhakta and colleagues looked at 168 CHCs among 3,010 childhood cancer survivors over age 18 who were treated at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. They found that nearly all survivors (99.9 percent) had experienced at least one CHC by age 50, compared with 96 percent of age-matched peers in the community. Childhood cancer survivors had an average of 17.1 CHCs per person, including 4.7 serious conditions, compared to an average of 9.2 CHCs (2.3 of them serious) in the comparison group. Lung function disorders, second cancers, and spinal disorders were more likely to occur in childhood cancer survivors. Due to these findings, the researchers suggest that the burden of CHCs in childhood cancer survivors is substantial and that this information can inform clinical guidelines and health services planning for this population.
September 5, 2017—LA Times Tweet
In a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers from the NCI-sponsored Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (CISNET) Prostate Working Group (PWG) reexamined data from two conflicting clinical trials on screening men for prostate cancer: – the United States’ Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial, and the European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer. PLCO found that screening men over 55 years of age with the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) did not decrease mortality, while the European study found that mortality decreased by 20%. In this recent study, Ruth Etzioni, along with other CISNET PWG investigators, found that screening men over 55 years old reduced mortality by 25% to 32%. Dr. Sam Chang, a urological surgeon with Vanderbilt University, says that PSA screening is useful for patients and physicians to make decisions about future care. He also acknowledges that in the last 5 to 10 years, doctors have learned more about the harms of over-treatment, which can lead to impotence, incontinence, and difficulties with bowel movements. In April 2017, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) suggested that men ages 55-69 discuss the risks and benefits of testing with their doctors.
August 21, 2017—Reuters Tweet
In a recent study published in Cancer, researchers projected that annual mammograms beginning at age 40 for women of average risk would decrease breast cancer deaths by 40%. Dr. Elizabeth Arleo, a radiologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York Presbyterian, and colleagues used six Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (CISNET) models to compare three current, conflicting recommendations on mammography. The American Cancer Society (ACS) suggests beginning annual screening at 45, and then every other year by 55; the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) suggests every two years, beginning at age 50. According to the computer models, death rates decreased by 31% and 23% when following recommendations from the ACS and the USPSTF, respectively. Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the ACS, says that starting annual screening at age 40 will lead to more false positives and unnecessary biopsies. However, both the ACS and USPSTF agree that women should get screened earlier if they are at increased risk of breast cancer.
August 17, 2017—The ASCO Post Tweet
Researchers from Yale University investigated hospice enrollment, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, and chemotherapy administration for older patients with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) to better understand end-of-life health care use in this population. Study investigators treated hospice enrollment as appropriate end-of-life care, while they considered ICU admissions and chemotherapy as potentially aggressive. In this retrospective study, funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Dr. Rong Wang and colleagues used SEER-Medicare data to classify 13,156 patients, aged 66 or older, who were diagnosed with AML between 1999 and 2011, and died before December 31, 2012. Of the 13,156 patients, 5,847 (44.4%) enrolled in hospice care. Among those who enrolled in hospice, most entered within 3 or 7 days of death, 28.8% and 47.3%, respectively. Hospice enrollment increased continually between 1999 and 2012, mainly due to an increase in enrollment within 7 days of death. Additionally, the research team found that compared to their white counterparts, nonwhite male patients were more likely to receive chemotherapy or spend time in the ICU at the end of life instead of enrolling in hospice. Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that hospice care is underused, and improving culturally-sensitive care could help reduce the racial disparities seen among AML patients at the end of life. The researchers suggest further exploration into the reasons for low hospice use to improve end-of-life care for patients with AML.
August 15, 2017—Reuters Tweet
In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers examined the risk of blood clots in arteries causing heart attacks and strokes in patients recently diagnosed with cancer. Dr. Babak Navi and colleagues used SEER-Medicare data to identify patients, aged 66 or older, with new primary diagnoses of eight common types of cancer between 2002 and 2011. The researchers then matched the patients with a cancer-free control, accounting for demographics and comorbidities, to compare their cardiovascular risks over a two-year period. The research team found that six months after diagnosis, people with cancer had a higher rate of heart attack or stroke due to blood clots than people without cancer (4.7% and 2.2%, respectively). The rate was highest in patients with lung cancer (8.3%) as well as in patients with more advanced disease. After the first six months, the differences in risk between cancer and non-cancer patients decreased, and the risk was about the same by one year after diagnosis. Based on the findings, patients with cancer have higher risks of heart attack and stroke from blood clots in the arteries in the first few months after cancer diagnosis compared to people without cancer. Researchers suggest that all cancer patients should be monitored for signs and symptoms of cardiovascular disease, and patients should also be aware of the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke to improve clinical outcomes.
August 9, 2017—CNN Tweet
In a recent study published in JAMA, researchers from the American Cancer Society investigated trends in colorectal cancer mortality rates. Dr. Siegel and colleagues used the SEER Program to analyze mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics. The researchers examined colorectal cancer deaths among 20- to 54-years-olds by race between 1970-2014. They found that colorectal cancer mortality rates declined overall between 1970-2004, but then increased 1 percent annually between 2004-2014. While mortality rates have decreased since 1970 among black individuals, ages 20-54, they have increased among white individuals since 1995 for those ages 30-39 and since 2005 for those aged 40-54. These increases in mortality follow decades of decline. Due to these findings, the researchers suggest that age-appropriate colorectal cancer screening and timely follow-up of symptoms are important for detecting colorectal cancer earlier.
June 29, 2017—HealthIT Analytics Tweet
A new partnership between CancerLinQ® participating oncology practices and the NCI will increase the amount of data available to oncologists and allow participants to investigate different cancer types and their outcomes more thoroughly. CancerLinQ, a big data analytics platform, enables the comparison of data collected from electronic health records (EHRs) for cancer cases treated at participating oncology practices to similar patient populations from other participating institutions and practices. According to a news release from the American Society of Oncology (ASCO), in the first phase of CancerLinQ’s partnership with the NCI, CancerLinQ users will have access to NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program, which is a collection of de-identified data from 18 cancer registries in the U.S. covering approximately 30% of the population. The SEER database includes information on patient demographics, primary tumor site, tumor morphology (form and structure) and stage at diagnosis, first course of treatment, and follow-up for vital status. CancerLinQ participants will be able to compare their own practice data with SEER’s regional and national data, which has the potential to enhance future clinical care. A goal of the partnership’s second phase is for CancerLinQ oncologists to upload their data into the SEER program, which will enhance the cancer surveillance mission of SEER and expand its usefulness as a population-level resource for researchers. CancerLinQ will also partner with the FDA; that partnership’s goal is to improve the use of cancer medications by creating more accurate labels that explain how therapies can be used more effectively. According to Dr. Clifford A. Hudis, CEO of ASCO, “equipping these federal organizations with such a wealth of real-world evidence for cancer care will open new possibilities for gathering important insights, enhancing research, and producing better outcomes for patients.”
June 21, 2017—Reuters Tweet
Researchers from the University of Southern California investigated the effects of particulate matter (PM) air pollution on liver cancer survival. While PM air pollution has been associated with cancer incidence and mortality in lung cancer, the liver is another organ possibly affected by PM air pollution due to its role in detoxifying this matter in the body. Dr. Sandrah Eckel and colleagues used SEER data and analyzed more than 20,000 patients in the California Cancer Registry diagnosed with liver cancer between 2000 and 2009. The researchers combined this data with air pollution statistics from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, looking at measurements of fine air particles with diameters of 2.5 micrometers or less (PM 2.5). According to the data, exposure to PM 2.5 after liver cancer diagnosis was associated with shortened survival, with greater effects at higher PM 2.5 concentrations. Based on this finding, the study authors suggest that relatively small reductions in high pollution levels could have significant health impacts and increase survival for non-respiratory system cancer.
June 9, 2017—HealthDay News Tweet
In a recent study published in Carcinogenesis, researchers linked the use of hair dyes and hair relaxers to an increased risk of breast cancer. Dr. Adana Llanos and colleagues looked at 4,285 black and white women, ages 20 to 75, living in New York City and New Jersey, who used hair dyes, hair relaxers, and deep conditioners using cholesterol and placenta. Of the women studied, 2,280 were breast cancer survivors. According to the results, black women who used dark brown and black hair dyes increased their overall risk of breast cancer by 51%; for estrogen receptor positive, the most common breast cancer type, risk increased by 72%. White women who use hair relaxers increased their overall risk of breast cancer by 74%. While it’s not clear why risk differs among race and darker hair colors, Llanos, lead author of the study and assistant professor at Rutgers School of Public Health, says the reason may be differences in the chemical composition and marketing of these products. According to the NCI, an estimated 12% of women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime.
June 8, 2017—HealthDay News Tweet
Wealth is associated with greater longevity in the U.S., but researchers have not been able to confirm higher access to medical care as a factor of living longer. A team from The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice analyzed the incidence and mortality rates for four major types of cancers (breast, prostate, melanoma and thyroid) in high-income (median annual income > $75,000) and low-income (median annual income < $40,000) counties that report to SEER registries. The researchers indicate that since 1975, high-income counties had greater increases in incidence for all cancer types than low-income counties. In contrast, the combined mortality from the four cancers was similar between high-income and low-income counties, implying that the underlying disease burden did not change between them. The difference in incidence rates in high-income counties could be attributed to the greater ability to pay, excessive cancer screening tests, and a fee-for-service health care system that encourages doctors to treat more. The study authors emphasized the importance of reducing the overutilization of testing to create sustainable health care.
June 7, 2017—NPR Tweet
Researchers from the Yale School of Medicine investigated mechanisms that may lead to overdiagnosis in breast cancer. The study authors used SEER data to analyze invasive breast cancers that were diagnosed in 2001 to 2013, splitting them into favorable, intermediate, and unfavorable groups based on their biologic factors such as breast cancer subtype and level of survival. The researchers found that many small tumors with favorable biologic features do not progress to large tumors during the lifetime of the patient. Based on this finding, the researchers suggest that these favorable small tumors contribute substantially to overdiagnosis. Favorable tumors in women ages 40 and over are more common than in women younger than 40 years old, likely due to different patterns of mammography use. Based on this finding, the researchers suggest that overdiagnosis is much more prevalent in older women than in younger women. They also suggest that clinicians could use tumor and patient information to identify potential cases of breast cancer overdiagnosis, which could prevent harms such as overtreatment or anxiety from cancer diagnosis.
June 7, 2017—HealthDay News Tweet
In a research study published by the American Cancer Society (ACS), the authors investigated trends in liver cancer incidence, survival, and mortality in the United States. The researchers used national data from SEER and the National Center for Health Statistics. According to ACS, liver cancer deaths have doubled since the mid-1980s and are increasing at a faster pace than any other cancer. Liver cancer is the fifth- and eighth-leading cause of cancer death in men and women, respectively; only one in five patients survives five years after diagnosis. About 60 percent of liver cancers in the United States are due to potentially modifiable risk factors. Risk factors include infection with hepatitis C virus or hepatitis B virus, obesity, diabetes, consuming alcohol, and smoking tobacco. The study authors also found racial/ethnic and geographical differences in liver cancer death rates. Due to these findings, the researchers suggest that liver cancer deaths could be prevented and health disparities reduced through improvements in vaccinations for hepatitis B virus, screening and treatment for hepatitis C virus infections, providing access to high-quality diabetes care, preventing excessive alcohol consumption, and more.
June 5, 2017—NYT Health Tweet
SEER’s own Angela Mariotto led a recent study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention on metastatic breast cancer survival. For women under age 49, the five-year survival rate from 1992 to 1994 was 18%. Survival between 2005 and 2012 doubled to 36%. While this type of breast cancer is currently incurable, Dr. Mariotto says that both earlier imaging and improved treatment (particularly Herceptin) contribute to the increase in five-year survival. According to the study’s calculation using SEER data, in 2017, 154,794 women are living with metastatic breast cancer in the U.S.—an increase from the 105,354 women that were living with the disease in 1990.
May 23, 2017—Health Day Editor Tweet
Researchers used SEER data to investigate the link between cancer diagnoses and suicide. Dr. Jeffrey Port, of Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues analyzed data of more than 3 million patients over a 40-year period and found that cancer diagnoses of any type were associated with more than 6,600 suicides.This is 60% higher than the suicide rate in the general population. Dr. Port determined that lung cancer patients in particular were 420% more likely to commit suicide than the general population. Several factors, including guilt, feeling overwhelmed, and lack of support through support groups and marches, were associated with increased risk. According to the study, lung cancer patients who are Asian, have metastatic cancer, opt out of surgery, elderly, widowed, or men are more likely to commit suicide. Dr. Port hopes this study will help address the high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression associated with lung cancer.
May 23, 2017—Chicago Tribune Tweet
In a recent study by the American Academy of Dermatology, researchers found that people of color are diagnosed with melanoma of skin in more advanced stages and are more likely to die from the disease, even though most melanoma diagnoses are in whites. According to Dr. Arthur Rhodes, director of the Dermatology Melanoma Surveillance Clinic at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, melanoma is 15 to 20 times more common in whites. Dr. Rhodes says that there are two common misconceptions about melanoma. One is that melanoma does not occur in individuals with darker skin tones, who don’t often go tanning. The other is that melanoma only occurs in areas of the skin that are exposed to ultraviolet radiation, either through the sun or artificially. According to SEER data, there will be approximately 87,110 new melanoma cases in 2017, and around 9,730 will die.
May 8, 2017—Reuters Tweet
In a recent study published in Cancer, researchers investigated the connection between environmental quality and cancer risk, focusing on the impact of combined environmental exposures. Dr. Jyotsna Jagai and colleagues used county data on exposure to different pollutants between 2000-2005 and data from SEER on new cancer diagnoses between 2006-2010. The study authors found that, for all counties in the study, there was an average of 451 cancer cases for every 100,000 people. Counties that had lower environmental quality had an average of 39 more cancer cases each year for every 100,000 residents compared to counties with the highest level of environmental quality. Prostate and breast cancers were found to be strongly associated with environmental quality, and counties with low environmental quality were linked to 10 more cases of these cancers for every 100,000 people. Residents living in more urbanized communities also appeared to be at greater cancer risk. Due to these findings, the researchers suggest that living in areas with higher total exposures to harmful pollutants in the air, water, and land is associated with greater likelihood of developing cancer. Additionally, improved conditions in the environment would positively impact cancer risk and health outcomes.
May, 2017—AAP News & Journals Tweet
In a study published in Pediatrics, researchers examined the cancer risks of children who receive organ transplants. It is known that people who receive organ transplants are at higher risk of cancer than the general population due to the use of immunosuppressant medicine, and that children are at higher risk for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) after transplantation. For this retrospective study, the researchers used data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients and SEER cancer registries. The authors reviewed 17,958 transplant cases from 1987-2011 with recipients who were less than 18 years of age. The researchers found that cancer incidence was more than 19 times higher among pediatric recipients than in the general population. NHL, which made up most diagnosed cancers, had an incidence that was 212 times higher in the transplant group than in the general population. NHL risk was highest during the first year after transplantation for recipients susceptible to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection and for intestine transplant recipients. Due to these findings, the authors suggest that risk for NHL, and likely Hodgkin’s lymphoma and myeloma, are due to infection with EBV and immunosuppression. EBV prevention and control among pediatric transplant recipients may prove crucial to cancer prevention in this population.
Low Acculturated Latina Women Reported Breast Cancer Treatment Experience Differently Than Other Groups
April 27, 2017—Oncology Nurse Advisor Tweet
Researchers used SEER data to understand racial differences in patient perspectives on early-stage breast cancer treatment experiences. Dr. Steven J. Katz and colleagues conducted a survey of 5,080 women from the SEER registries of Los Angeles County and Georgia who received a diagnosis between 2013 and 2015. Low acculturated Latinas had higher rates of reporting information overload from their health care providers. However, the quality of communication with physicians before surgery was similar across all and ethnic groups.
April 24, 2017—Health Day Editor Tweet
A recent study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle used SEER data to determine if black men should be screened for prostate cancer earlier than men of other races. Screening for prostate cancer includes a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and a digital rectal exam to determine if the prostate gland is enlarged or if other abnormalities are present. Researchers led by Dr. Ruth Etzioni estimated the onset and development of the disease by creating three models of incidence rates and PSA screening in the U.S. The study found that 30 to 43% of black men developed preclinical (asymptomatic) prostate cancer by 85 years old. This is 28 to 56% higher than the rate for men of other races. Though men of all racial backgrounds have a similar risk of preclinical prostate cancer if they are not screened, the study determined that prostate cancer develops faster in black men, with their risk of being diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer being 44 to 75% higher than other men.
April 19, 2017—Reuters Tweet
In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers examined genetic counseling and testing and the impact of results on surgical decisions—particularly, bilateral mastectomy (BLM)—for early-stage breast cancer. The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute and used SEER data. The authors of this retrospective study looked at female patients from the SEER Registries of Georgia and Los Angeles County who had been diagnosed with stages 0-II breast cancer between 2014-2015. The researchers found that out of 666 women who reported genetic testing, two-thirds were tested before they had surgery. About half the patients discussed their results with a genetic counselor, and other patients discussed their results with only their surgeons or their oncologists. Higher-risk women were more likely to have BLM if testing found a high-risk mutation, but many women also underwent BLM if they had a variant of uncertain significance (VUS) or no mutation at all. Due to these findings, the authors suggest there is a need to address challenges in personalized communication about genetic testing and that it is important for genetic tests to be ordered and interpreted by genetic counseling experts.
April 13, 2017—Reuters Health Tweet
A recent study conducted by the American Cancer Society used SEER data from 2000 through 2012 to compare cancer incidence in U.S.-born non-Hispanic Blacks to Sub-Saharan-born Blacks. Researchers, led by Dr. Stacey Fedewa, used proportional incidence ratios for the 15 most common cancer types diagnosed in African-born Blacks and compared the incidence rates of those same cancers in Blacks born in the U.S. African people were more often younger, married, uninsured, and lived in more affluent areas. It was found that African-born Blacks were more frequently diagnosed with infection-related cancers, such as liver, stomach, Kaposi sarcoma, blood cancers, such as leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, as well as prostate cancer, and thyroid cancer in women. African-born people were less likely to be diagnosed with colorectal and lung cancers. It’s noted that the likelihood of diagnosis is associated with country of origin, as well as behavioral, societal, environmental, and genetic factors.
April 4, 2017—Reuters Health Tweet
Researchers from NCI and Duke University Medical Center investigated U.S. trends in thyroid cancer incidence and mortality by tumor characteristics at diagnosis. Using SEER-9 data to complete the analysis, Dr. Cari Kitahara and colleagues found that the incidence of thyroid cancer increased annually between 1974-2013, particularly for advanced-stage papillary thyroid cancer (PTC). This subtype also had an increase in mortality over this same time period. Due to these findings, the study authors suggest that there has been a true increase in the occurrence of thyroid cancer, contradicting the idea that the rising incidence of thyroid cancer is due to overdiagnosis or increased ability to diagnose small tumors that would never cause symptoms or require treatment. The researchers also state that future studies are needed to understand what is driving these increased rates of thyroid cancer, whether it may be factors like changing environmental exposures, obesity, or smoking.
March 16, 2017—JAMA Oncology Tweet
In a recent study published in JAMA, breast cancer patients with the (HR)-negative/HER2-positive and triple negative subtypes are at an increased risk of brain metastases. The researchers, led by Dr. Ayal A. Aizer of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, used SEER data of over 231,000 patients diagnosed with invasive breast cancer between 2010 and 2013. Of this patient population, 968 patients developed brain metastases, with 11.5% having the (HR)-negative/HER2-positive subtype and 11.4% having the triple negative subtype. Often, by the time patients are diagnosed with brain metastases, surgery and radiation is needed to treat their symptoms. On average, the survival rate of breast cancer patients with brain metastasis was 10 months. The study concluded that using MRIs to screen the brain in breast cancer patients, particularly those with the (HR)-negative/HER2 positive and triple negative subtypes, is justified.
February 27, 2017—NIH Tweet
The Detroit Research on Cancer Survivors (ROCS) study involves a large population of approximately 21,000 African Americans from Detroit, which is a SEER cancer registry. The major goal of this study, which is being conducted by Wayne State University School of Medicine and the Karmanos Cancer Institute of Detroit, is to pinpoint several social and biological factors that affect cancer treatment and survival and contribute to poorer outcomes among African Americans with cancer. Being the largest study to date of African American cancer survivors, the results will be a valuable guide to various stakeholders like public health workers, clinicians, researchers, and policy makers to identify ways to reduce the cancer burden and improve cancer care for African Americans.
February 28, 2017—The New York Times Tweet
A research study from NCI and the American Cancer Society investigated colorectal cancer incidence in the U.S. between 1974-2013. The researchers used SEER data and found that while colorectal cancer incidence rates have dropped for adults age 55 years and older, it is increasing among young adults. In particular, rectal cancers are rising sharply, faster than cancers in other parts of the large intestine or colon. Compared with adults born around 1950, those born around 1990 have double the risk of colon cancer and quadruple the risk of rectal cancer. Due to these findings, the researchers suggest that certain cancer screenings before age 50 years should be considered and that further research is needed to understand why these trends are happening.
February 28, 2017—Washington Post Tweet
In a study published in JAMA, researchers investigated whether changes in historical treatment practices for chemotherapy and radiation therapy are associated with changes in cancer survivors’ risk of developing new cancers. In this retrospective study, the authors looked at cancer survivors diagnosed before age 21 at pediatric hospitals in the U.S. and Canada between 1970-1999 and whether they developed new cancers within 15 years of their original cancers. Using SEER data to calculate statistical measures of association, researchers found that the rate of new cancers fell from 2.1 percent for survivors diagnosed in the 1970s to 1.3 percent for those diagnosed in the 1990s; during this same time, the rate of pediatric cancer patients being treated with radiation therapy decreased from 77 percent to 33 percent and treatment dosages also decreased. Due to these findings, the authors suggest that reduced radiation therapy of a cancer survivor’s first cancer leads to lowered risk of new cancers.
February 7, 2017—NPR Tweet
In a recent study published in JAMA, researchers investigated breast cancer patients and their experiences with genetic counseling and testing. The study, funded in part by SEER, included more than 2,500 women with breast cancer. One-third of the participants were at high risk of having a mutation in their BRCA genes, which increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancers. The study authors found that only 39.6% of all high-risk women and 61.7% of high-risk women who received genetic testing reported having a genetic counseling session. Due to these findings, the researchers suggest there may be a gap between the need and availability of genetic counseling. Oncologists may use genetic testing and counseling to determine a patient’s treatment options and susceptibility to developing future cancers.
January 26, 2016—NIH Press Release Tweet
A research study from NIH and the University of New Mexico investigated the increase in age-adjusted death rates in the U.S. in 2015. The researchers analyzed premature death rates in the age group 25-64 for all races and used the SEER Cause of Death Recode to categorize this data for the analysis. The study found that premature death rates between 1999-2014 declined in the U.S. among Hispanics, blacks, and Asian/Pacific Islanders, likely due to public health efforts and medical advances leading to improved health outcomes in cancer, heart disease, and HIV. Premature death rates rose among whites and American Indian/Alaska Natives during this same time due to increases in drug-related accidents, suicide, and liver disease. However, overall premature mortality still remained higher for black men and women than for whites.
17% of women with early-stage breast cancer have unnecessary mastectomies, and doctors want to know why
December 21, 2016—Los Angeles Times
According to a recent survey of 2,402 breast cancer patients from the LA County and Georgia SEER Registries, 14.2% of women with early stage breast cancer and low risk of recurrence have had Contralateral Prophylactic Mastectomy (CPM), which is the removal of the healthy breast along with the cancerous one. Rates of surgery were higher among patients who did not receive recommendations for or against CPM from their surgeon. Significant percentages of women who contemplated and even received CPM thought that it may improve survival and prevent recurrence, even though in most cases it doesn’t. Effective communication between the doctor and patient about the risks and benefits of CPM could reduce potential overtreatment in the future.
December 20, 2016—UPI
Hispanic women represent the largest racial minority group in the U.S., yet until recently there had not been any cancer risk assessment models specifically for this population. Researchers from Kaiser Permanente have developed a breast cancer risk prediction model dedicated to Hispanic women using SEER data from the California Bay area. The model can predict the risk for invasive breast cancer for both foreign-born and U.S.-born Hispanic women, and it will help doctors to assess their patients’ risk of breast cancer development more accurately.
December 13, 2016—CNN
In a recent study published in JAMA, researchers analyzed county-wide cause-specific mortality rates for 21 major causes of deaths in the U.S. The data was from over 80 million death records between 1980 and 2014. The authors also used State Cancer Profiles, an online collaboration between NCI and CDC, to analyze data on cancer death rates by county. Researchers found patterns of cause-specific mortality rates that differed significantly among counties representing various geographic regions of the U.S. State and county health departments, researchers, communities and policy makers can use this county-level data to identify driving factors that are specific issues in their region and devise strategies accordingly.
November 25, 2016—Reuters Health Medical News
Racial disparities in prostate cancer survival are well-documented, but patient-reported treatment outcomes by race are not. Researchers behind the Comparative Effectiveness Analysis of Surgery and Radiation (CEASAR) Study found little variation in treatment-related changes by race after prostatectomy. Patients of all races and ethnicities had similar post-treatment outcomes related to changes in sexual, urinary, bowel, and hormonal function.
November 12, 2016—EurekAlert
Treatment with tumor necrosis factor inhibitors (TNFi) has been linked to a potential increased cancer risk for patients with certain conditions. Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham compared the rate of new cases of cancer in children with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) who received treatment with TNFi compared to those who did not. There was no association between an increased cancer risk and using TNFi to treat children with JIA.
November 3, 2016—The New York Times
In 2014, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conducted a follow-up analysis of its 2007 study on the supply and demand of oncology services. The authors concluded that by 2025 the demand for oncologists will grow up to 40%, but the supply will only grow about 25%. This will create a shortage of oncologists, making it difficult for patients to receive quality cancer care. The combination of an aging population and a shortage of cancer specialists will lead to physician burnout and underserved patients.
November 2, 2016—STAT News
This study compared the mortality rates of cancer patients who filed for bankruptcy with the mortality rates of those who did not file for bankruptcy. Cancer patients who filed for bankruptcy had a 79 percent higher mortality rate compared to those who had the same cancer but did not file for bankruptcy. The result underscores the importance of measures that reduce the financial burden of cancer care on families, thereby improving treatment adherence and quality of life for cancer patients.
Majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer after screening mammograms get unnecessary treatment, study finds
October 18, 2016—Los Angeles Times
A recent breast cancer study questioned the value of universal screening for women over 40 with no family history of the disease. Researchers compared rates of new cases and deaths before and after the introduction of widespread mammography screening in the U.S. The incidence of small tumors increased exponentially after the implementation of mammograms, suggesting that screening led to much over-diagnosis in addition to lifesaving detection.
October 13, 2016—Reuters
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a decrease in breast cancer death rates among white women contributes to an overall decline in mortality for this disease. The report examined age-specific black-white disparities in breast cancer incidence and mortality (1999-2014). For women above 50 years of age, the death rates among black women were higher than white women. The death rates were similar among black and white women below 50 years of age.
October 4, 2016—The Washington Post
Even though there has been a dramatic increase in the number of orally administered oncology treatments in recent years, their affordability still remains a concern. A study for treatment initiation and adherence to an essential cancer-drug regimen was conducted among 393 Medicare patients with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML). The results showed that lack of cost-sharing subsidies, and consequently, huge out-of-pocket costs may be a factor in delaying these life-saving treatments.
September 28, 2016—The Houston Chronicle
A study from MD Anderson Cancer Center involving 100,000 patients shows that patients who had a mastectomy and reconstruction were nearly twice as likely to suffer from complications than those who had a regular lumpectomy followed by radiation. Mastectomy and reconstruction costs $23,000 more than lumpectomy followed by radiation, questioning the decision of mastectomy and reconstruction based on cost and benefits.
September 19, 2016—CNN
A large U.S. cohort study of 363,726 men from American Cancer Society researchers did not find any link between vasectomy and prostate cancer incidence or prostate cancer mortality. This is in contrast to a recent prospective cohort study that showed a moderately higher risk of prostate cancer associated with vasectomy.
September 16, 2016—NPR
Two studies, one focused on malignant brain tumors (13,600 adults) and the other on testicular cancer (10,200 adults), revealed that regardless of the cancer type, survival rates among insured cancer patients were higher than those among uninsured patients.
July 1, 2016—EurekAlert
Improved cancer detection and treatment efforts, combined with demographic trends, are creating larger numbers of older cancer survivors who are likely to have other health conditions that impact care and well-being.
Is the benefit of hormone therapy in prostate cancer patients worth the risk of psychiatric side effects?
August 26, 2016—Chicago Tribune
A research study from Harvard Medical School involving a large population of 33.880 prostate cancer patients shows that older men suffer from depression in the next few years after hormone therapy. The study, adjusted for all the other risk factors, shows a statistically significant raise in cases (23%) with depression compared to the control group which did not receive the treatment.
August 17, 2016—Reuters Health
In two new studies, U.S. cancer patients who are uninsured or have government-sponsored Medicaid insurance for the poor tend to be diagnosed later, receive less optimal treatment and survive for a shorter time than people with private health insurance.
August 4, 2016—Reuters Health
Even though Caucasians are much more likely to develop skin cancer than other ethnic groups, people of color who do get the disease are less likely to survive, a U.S. study suggests.
July 28, 2016—The Huffington Post
As it stands today, African-American women are roughly 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than white women.
July 20, 2016—M Health Lab
In recent years, the use of imaging tests has skyrocketed for post-treatment surveillance of thyroid cancer. But this hasn’t affected survival rates, new research shows.
July 10, 2016—The New York Times
Something strange is going on in medicine. Major diseases, like colon cancer, dementia and heart disease, are waning in wealthy countries, and improved diagnosis and treatment cannot fully explain it.
July 1, 2016—CBS News
As the American population ages, more older adults will survive cancer and live with other chronic conditions that will burden the health care system, U.S. government health officials report.
April 29, 2016—Newsday
Medical scientists have found a statistically significant link between levels of residential radon and risks for several cancers of the blood, particularly in women, say researchers from the American Cancer Society.
April 11, 2016—The New York Times
Several studies have found that being married improves survival in cancer patients. Now a new study suggests that it may largely be the social and emotional support of marriage, rather than any economic advantages, that produces the effect.
January 25, 2016—Time
People under the age of 50 aren't usually screened for colon cancer – but they're still at risk of the disease, according to a new study. The study, published Monday in the journal Cancer, finds that 1 in 7 patients with colon cancer is under the age of 50, and younger patients tend to be in more advanced stages of the disease. Current cancer screening guidelines list 50 as the age people should begin getting regular colon screenings.
December 18, 2015—New York Times
The Food and Drug Administration on Friday proposed barring everyone under 18 from using tanning beds, a sweeping move that medical experts say is a major step toward reducing the risk of skin cancer in the United States.
December 16, 2015—Time
For some women with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which is also referred to as Stage 0 breast cancer, something called active surveillance—screening, sometimes in combination with hormone therapy— could be an option instead of surgery and radiation. Currently, it’s difficult for doctors to tell whether the abnormal cells in the milk ducts that characterize DCIS will progress to invasive cancer, or if they will remain harmless. But as TIME Magazine previously reported, there’s growing concern among women and their doctors that treating all DCIS cases like invasive cancer is costly and potentially harmful for some women.
October 29, 2015—New York Times
African-American women in the United States have reached a dubious milestone. For the first time, the incidence of breast cancer among black women is equal to that of white women, according to a sweeping new report from the American Cancer Society.
September 14, 2015—HealthDay News
For people diagnosed with a type of cancer called acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), social and economic factors can affect the odds of survival, a new study shows.
September 16, 2015—Reuters Health
Cancer remains the leading cause of death among Hispanics in the U.S., driven in large part by lung malignancies in men and breast tumors in women, a new report finds.
August 20, 2015—Washington Post
Aggressive interventions to treat the earliest stage of breast cancers have no effect on whether a woman is alive a decade later, according to a study that tracked more than 100,000 women.The findings, published Thursday in the journal JAMA Oncology, found that the overall risk of dying after being diagnosed with early cancer lesions, called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), was 3.3 percent over two decades, and that pursuing treatment beyond a lumpectomy did not affect survival. Free, full text article (JAMA Oncology, August 20, 2015)
August 20, 2015—New York Times
As many as 60,000 American women each year are told they have a very early stage of breast cancer— Stage 0, as it is commonly known — a possible precursor to what could be a deadly tumor. And almost every one of the women has either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and often a double mastectomy, removing a healthy breast as well. Yet it now appears that treatment may make no difference in their outcomes.
August 20, 2015—New York Times
As many as 60,000 American women each year are told they have a very early stage of breast cancer— Stage 0, as it is commonly known — a possible precursor to what could be a deadly tumor. And almost every one of the women has either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and often a double mastectomy, removing a healthy breast as well. Yet it now appears that treatment may make no difference in their outcomes.
August 20, 2015—Associated Press
New research shows that chances of dying from very early breast cancer are small but the disease is riskier for young women and blacks, the same disparities seen for more advanced cancer.
April 20, 2015 – AACR press release
The total number of breast cancer cases in the United States is forecast to be 50 percent greater in 2030 than it was in 2011, when invasive and in-situ or screening-detected cancers are counted together, and this increase is driven mostly by a marked increase in cases of estrogen receptor (ER)–positive tumors and in women older than 70, according to research presented here at the AACR Annual Meeting 2015, April 18-22.
March 30, 2015 – Reuters Health Medical News
The rate of people being diagnosed or killed by cancer in the U.S. is stable or decreasing for men and women, according to a new report. "For the main cancers, it's really pretty much good news, incidence and mortality is decreasing," said Recinda Sherman, an author of the new report from the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR) in Springfield, Illinois.
March 20, 2015 – Reuters Health
Breast cancer patients of different races and ethnicities may not pick surgeons and hospitals in the same way, a new study suggests. For example, black and Hispanic women with breast cancer were less likely than white women to select surgeons and hospitals based on reputation, researchers found.
February 19, 2015 – Reuters Health
The proportion of people surviving years after a cancer diagnosis is improving, according to a new analysis. Men and women ages 50 to 64, who were diagnosed in 2005 to 2009 with a variety of cancer types, were 39 to 68 percent more likely to be alive five years later, compared to people of the same age diagnosed in 1990 to 1994, researchers found.
January 26, 2015 – Reuters Health Medical News
Women with breast cancer often don't know what kind of tumors they have, a new study found. Not knowing one's tumor features isn't necessarily tied to worse outcomes, but better knowledge might help women understand treatment decisions and take medications as directed, said Dr. Rachel Freedman, the study's lead author from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
August 11, 2014 - Medical News Today
Incidence rates are falling for lung cancer, the leading cancer killer of both men and women in the U.S. This is the conclusion that a new analysis from the National Cancer Institute has come to, with previously unrecognized trends found with regard to age, ethnicity, race, sex and cancer subtype.
Fred Hutchinson reseachers find that recent use of some birth control pills may increase breast cancer risk
August 4, 2014 - NCI Cancer Center News
Women who recently used birth control pills containing high-dose estrogen and a few other formulations had an increased risk for breast cancer, whereas women using some other formulations did not, according to data published in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Lung cancer death rates continue to fall, helping drive decrease in overall cancer death rates; Annual Report to the Nation includes special feature highlighting the contribution of other diseases on survival of patients
December 16, 2013
The Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, covering the period 1975-2010, showed death rates for lung cancer, which accounts for more than one in four cancer deaths, dropping at a faster pace than in previous years. The recent larger drop in lung cancer deaths is likely the result of decreased cigarette smoking prevalence over many years, and is now being reflected in mortality trends...The special feature of this year’s Report highlights the prevalence of other disease conditions, (diabetes, chronic lung disease, cardiovascular disease, and 13 others) in cancer patients over 65 years of age, and how they affect survival.
Comorbidity-adjusted life expectancy: a new tool to inform recommendations for optimal screening strategies.
November 22, 2013
Because some experts recommend consideration of health status and life expectancy when deciding whether to screen for cancer, the authors examined the statistical evidence in the SEER-Medicare database using sophisticated data modeling techniques. They estimated life expectancies of Medicare beneficiaries with and without comorbid conditions such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Large Study Finds Association between Marriage and Cancer Outcomes
September 23, 2013 - American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)
New results from a large retrospective study of the National Cancer Institute's SEER database, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, show that patients with cancer who were married at the time of diagnosis live markedly longer compared to unmarried patients. Researchers also found that married patients are more likely to be diagnosed with earlier-stage disease and much more likely to receive the appropriate therapy.
August 26, 2013
Hodgkin lymphoma survivors who received certain radiation and chemotherapy regimens were at increased risk of subsequently developing stomach cancer, according to a study by scientists at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health. The study appeared Aug. 26, 2013, in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
July 25, 2013 - NCI Cancer Center News
Based on a comprehensive study that included more than half the Asian American population, scientists from the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (a partner of the Stanford Cancer Institute) have produced the first ever analysis of national trends in cancer incidence among the eight largest Asian American groups. The researchers examined cancer incidence data from 1990 through 2008 in 10 regions of the country, representing 54 percent of all Asian Americans. The eight groups studied in detail include Asian Indians/Pakistanis, Chinese, Filipinos, Japanese, Kampucheans (Cambodians), Koreans, Laotians and Vietnamese.
July 24, 2013 - New York Times
Breast cancer survival is, over all, three years shorter for black women compared with white women, mostly because their cancer is often more advanced when they first seek medical care, new research shows.
July 2, 2013 - The Washington Post
Young men are more likely to die of the skin cancer melanoma than young women, regardless of the severity of the tumor, a new study found. This suggests there are fundamental biological differences between melanoma in men and in women, the researchers said.
View the study that used SEER data.
May 15, 2013 - Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
People diagnosed with cancer are more than two-and-a-half times more likely to declare bankruptcy than those without cancer, according to a new study from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Researchers also found that younger cancer patients had two- to five-fold higher bankruptcy rates compared to older patients, and that overall bankruptcy filings increased as time passed following diagnosis.
April 24, 2013
A new study of California women finds that women who wait six weeks or more after diagnosis to have surgery or begin chemotherapy have significantly decreased survival time compared with those who have a shorter time between diagnosis and treatment. This adverse impact on survival was more pronounced in African Americans, women with public or no insurance, and those with low SES.
The study examined cases from the California Cancer Registry database. The California Cancer Registry is part of the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program.
March 28, 2013 - Time
An aging population coupled with improved treatment methods mean more people will survive cancer. But at what cost? The American Association for Cancer Research released its second Annual Report on Cancer Survivorship, which shows that the current 13.7 million cancer survivors in the U.S. will likely swell by 31% to 18 million by the year 2022... "How to ensure that these patients lead not only long lives, but healthy and productive lives, will be a vital challenge to all of us," said Julia Rowland, the director of the Office of Cancer Survivorship at the National Cancer Institute in a statement.
February 27, 2013 - New York Times
The incidence of advanced breast cancer among younger women, ages 25 to 39, may have increased slightly over the last three decades, according to a study released Tuesday. But more research is needed to verify the finding, which was based on an analysis of statistics, the study’s authors said. They do not know what may have caused the apparent increase... The researchers analyzed data from SEER, a program run by the National Cancer Institute to collect cancer statistics on 28 percent of the population of the United States.
Report to the Nation shows U.S. cancer death rates continue to drop
January 7, 2013
The Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2009, shows that overall cancer death rates continued to decline in the United States among both men and women, among all major racial and ethnic groups, and for all of the most common cancer sites, including lung, colon and rectum, female breast, and prostate. However, the report also shows that death rates continued to increase during the latest time period (2000 through 2009) for melanoma of the skin (among men only) and for cancers of the liver, pancreas, and uterus. The special feature section on human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated cancers shows that incidence rates are increasing for HPV-associated oropharyngeal and anal cancers and that vaccination coverage levels in the U.S. during 2008 and 2010 remained low among adolescent girls.
November 27, 2012
Since breast cancer screening came into widespread use in the United States in the 1970s, more than 1 million women may have been diagnosed with cancers that never would have caused them harm or required treatment, a new study suggests. These women may have been exposed unnecessarily to the adverse effects of treatment, the authors reported in the November 22 New England Journal of Medicine.
November 27, 2012
Delays between a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment increase the risk of death for women with late-stage cancers, according to a study published November 19 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO). A second study appearing in the same issue of JCO found that the median wait time between diagnosis and treatment has grown longer. According to the authors, findings from the studies may provide data that can be used to develop quality measures for breast cancer care.
August 7, 2012
Soon after an independent task force recommended against routine screening of men aged 75 and older for prostate cancer with the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, the incidence of early-stage prostate tumors in that population declined, a new analysis shows. The findings suggest that the revised recommendations led to a reduction in prostate cancer screening rates in older men.
May 2, 2012
Despite substantial improvements in childhood cancer survival over the past several decades, racial disparities in survival rates persist - and, in fact, have worsened for some cancer types - according to a study published online April 30 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
April 26, 2012
A new analysis has found that Hispanic lung cancer patients seem to live longer than white or black patients. The study suggests that, as with several other types of cancer, certain yet-to-be-defined genetic and/or environmental factors put Hispanic patients at a survival advantage. Most studies that look at ethnic and racial disparities in lung cancer compare black patients with whites. The study was published in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.
March 28, 2012
Death rates from all cancers combined for men, women, and children continued to decline in the United States between 2004 and 2008, according to the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2008. The overall rate of new cancer diagnoses, also known as incidence, among men decreased by an average of 0.6 percent per year between 2004 and 2008. Overall cancer incidence rates among women declined 0.5 percent per year from 1998 through 2006 with rates leveling off from 2006 through 2008.
NIH study finds broad spectrum of cancer risk for organ transplant recipients in U.S.
November 22, 2011
Organ transplant recipients in the United States have a high risk of developing 32 different types of cancer, according to a new study of transplant recipients which fully describes the range of malignancies that occur. Researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and their colleagues evaluated medical data from more than 175,700 transplant recipients, accounting for about 40 percent of all organ transplant recipients in the country.
July 12, 2011 - MedPage Today
Guidelines for treating bladder cancer are largely ignored, according to a study showing that only 1% of providers delivered the full gamut of recommended care to at least one patient in their practice. These results from the national Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database linked with Medicare claims were reported online in Cancer.
July 12, 2011 - Reuters
The National Cancer Institute study looked at a database of 36 different types of cancer from 1977 to 2006. It found the highest male-to-female mortality rate ratios for cancers like lip, where 5.5 men died for each woman patient, and esophageal, where 4 men died for each woman patient. For lung cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women, the research found 2.3 male deaths for each female death.
Report to Nation Finds Continued Declines in Many Cancer Rates; Special Feature on Brain Tumor Rates and Survival
March 31, 2011
Rates of death in the United States from all cancers for men and women continued to decline between 2003 and 2007, the most recent reporting period available, according to the latest Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer. The report also finds that the overall rate of new cancer diagnoses for men and women combined decreased an average of slightly less than 1 percent per year for the same period.
U.S. Cancer Survivors Grow To Nearly 12 Million
March 10, 2011
The number of cancer survivors in the United States increased to 11.7 million in 2007, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health. There were 3 million cancer survivors in 1971 and 9.8 million in 2001.
December 13, 2010 - Cancer Prevention Institute of California
Cancer Prevention Institute of California Research Scientist Scarlett Lin Gomez, Ph.D., has been named "2010 American Journal of Public Health Author of the Year." Dr. Gomez is the recipient of the award as a result of her research article based on her study of breast cancer in Asian American groups titled, "Disparities in Breast Cancer Survival Among Asian Women by Ethnicity and Immigrant Status."
October 19, 2010
A number of patients with advanced, incurable cancer continue to undergo routine cancer screening tests that are unlikely to provide any medical benefit, reported researchers led by Dr. Camelia Sima from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in the October 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
September 7, 2010
An analysis of hospice patients with terminal cancer using SEER-Medicare linked data indicates that those who disenrolled from hospice care had higher rates of hospitalization, were more likely to die in a hospital, and incurred higher Medicare expenditures between hospice enrollment and death than patients who continued hospice care until death. The researchers adjusted for a number of factors, including the number of days from hospice enrollment until death, and found that total Medicare expenditures were $2,475 higher, on average, among the patients who disenrolled from hospice. The analysis was published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology August 30.
August 23, 2010
A new analysis has found that while colon cancer rates have remained steady over the past several decades among people under the age of 40, rectal cancer rates are increasing in this population across races and in both sexes. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study indicates that greater efforts are needed to diagnose rectal cancer in young individuals who show potential signs of the disease.
July 27, 2010
A new analysis by NCI researchers has turned up no evidence to support a link between cell phone use and brain cancer in the United States. The analysis was carried out in view of concerns about a possible link between widespread use of cell phones and brain cancer risk. With more than 279 million U.S. wireless subscribers today, the researchers reasoned that it should be possible to detect an increase in brain cancer rates over time if, in fact, cell phone use does contribute to risk of this particular cancer. The caveat would be that no effect would be expected if the induction period for brain tumors is very long or increased risk is limited to long-term users.
2010 Cancer Facts and Figures uses SEER and NAACCR data
June 15, 2010
Cancer Facts & Figures for 2010 has just been released by the American Cancer Society, with a special section on prostate cancer. Incidence data are from SEER and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR). Mortality data are from the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
May 6, 2010
Scarlett Lin Gomez from the Cancer Prevention Institute of California spoke at an event, at the National Press Club in Washington DC. The Forum, entitled "Beyond Reform: Health Concerns and Disparities among America's Fastest Growing Populations," was hosted by the Asian Pacific Islander Health Forum (APIAHF) and the Kellogg Foundation, and addressed health disparities among Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders. The event launched the American Journal of Public Health's recent special issue, which highlighted the health of Asian and Pacific Islander populations in the United States.
May 4, 2010
Cancer of the lower stomach has decreased overall in American adults but has increased in whites age 25-39, a study finds. The work, led by researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, is published in the May 5, 2010, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.