State to release comprehensive cancer control plan
Maryland health officials plan to release today their newest plan to control cancer, a set of diseases responsible for one in four deaths in the state.
The officials say the plan to be used by health care providers, policy makers, communities and individuals is ambitious, aiming to save some 1,200 more people a year. Now, about 10,000 Marylander die a year from all kinds of cancer.
“Cancer remains a leading cause of death and we have to attack it from multiple angles,” said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, secretary of the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in an interview before the announcement at Johns Hopkins. (Look for full coverage in the Baltimore Sun tomorrow or on Baltimoresun.com later today.) Update: Story is here.
The plan is required by each state by the U.S. Centers of Control and Prevention, which notes that the cost nationally from cancer was more than $206 billion in 2006. In Maryland, it was estimated to be $3.9 billion.
Officials from the public and private sectors who contributed to the report outlined the steps that should be taken by all stakeholders. It takes into account the latest research and strategies on prevention, early detection and treatment for the disparate types of cancer that most commonly afflict Marylanders and Americans, such as breast and prostate, lung, colon and ovarian cancer.
The overall goal is to decrease cancer mortality to160 deaths per 100,000 Marylanders from 187 deaths per 100,000 recorded in 2006.
Officials note that Maryland has come a long way in controlling cancer. Until the epidemic peaked in the state in 1990, Maryland had the third highest cancer mortality rate in the country. The rate decreased enough by 2000 to rank the state 11th and 20th by 2006.
But the population is aging and more cancers are likely to be found, the report says. That makes lifestyle choices for younger people all the more important, said Dr. Kevin J. Cullen, director of the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center.
Smoking and eating habits are the two most crucial elements to change, said Cullen, who is also a member of the Maryland State Council on Cancer Control that facilitate the plan that involved input from hundreds of people.
“Many cancers are preventable, probably the majority of them, if people did the simple things of not smoking and keeping their body weight in recommended range the overall burden of cancer would probably drop by at least half.”