Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for an estimated 104 million new cases and 560,000 deaths in 2007 (Jemal et al. , 2007). The lifetime probability of developing cancer is now estimated at 1 in 2 for men and 1 in 3 for women (American Cancer Society, 2007). Cancer death rates increased steadily since 1930, when nationwide mortality was first complied. A sharp rise in lung cancer rates was the main reason for this increase.
Cancer death rates decreased for the first time in 2002; rates were 14% lower in men and 7% lower in women compares to peak rates in 1990 and 1991, respectively. This could portend a progressive decline in cancer mortality in the coming decade. Persons At-Risk Rates of cancer vary by age and sex. Although cancer occurs more frequently with advancing age, it is also the second leading cause of death due to disease among US children aged 1 to 14 (American Cancer Society, 2007). Men have a 45% lifetime probability of developing cancer and women have a 38% lifetime probability (Jemal et al. , 2007).
Racial and ethnic groups are not affected equally by cancer. Black men have the highest incidence of cancer and non-Hispanic White men have the next highest rate (19% lower than that of Black men) (Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program, 2007). Blacks have poorer survival than Whites for almost all types of cancer at all stages of diagnosis (Jemal et al. , 2007). In addition, Blacks are less likely to be diagnosed at an early and more treatable stage of cancer that Whites.
Mortality rates are more than twice as high for Blacks as compared to Whites for several cancers including prostates, stomach, myeloma, uterine cervix, and cancers of the head and neck (Albano et al. , 2007; Ghafoor et al. , 2002). Risk Factors Several estimates of the proportion of overall cancer deaths due to various causes have been postulated (Danaei, Vander Hoorn, Lopez, Murray, & Ezzati, 2005). Those of the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention (Colditz et al. , 1996) and Danaei et al. (2005) provide a useful benchmark on which to base preventive efforts.
Thus, the priorities for cancer prevention and control should focus on 1) eliminating use of tobacco; 2) consuming a prudent diet that includes an abundant distribution of fruits and vegetables and achieves a balance between energy intake and regular physical activity; 3) reducing exposures to occupational carcinogens; 4) controlling exposures to microbial agents that may be sexually transmitted or transmitted by sharing contaminated needles or personal articles, or prevented by immunization; 5) limiting consumption of alcohol; and 6) avoiding overexposure to sunlight (American Cancer Society, 2007; Colditz et al. , 2002).