Improving Cancer Tracking Today Saves Lives Tomorrow: Do States Make the Grade?


Publication Date:

Publisher: Trust for America's Health

Author(s): Trust for America's Health

Research Area: Health

Type: Report


More than 30 years after the launch of the War on Cancer, the disease remains the top health concern of Americans. Despite advances in diagnosis and treatment, cancer is still responsible for one of every four deaths in the United States. Cancer illness and death from cancer annually costs the nation $180 billion plus in health care spending and lost productivity. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates, however, that one-third of cancer deaths could be prevented. Health agencies in each state are responsible for compiling information about cancer rates to study patterns and trends. These "cancer tracking" efforts are essential to help find cures, improve treatments and develop strong public health initiatives aimed at reducing cancer rates. This report, supported by grants from RWJF and Pew Charitable Trusts, examines how well state health agencies are doing in their effort to track, control and prevent cancer, and awards grades on a state-by-state basis. It concludes that states are missing key, important opportunities to reduce cancer rates. According to report findings, most states perform very well at maintaining high quality data about cancer rates. Findings also revealed cancer control and prevention could be greatly enhanced if increased efforts were made to connect cancer tracking information and other sources of health information on a routine and systematized basis. Additionally, the survey revealed a gap in the ability of states to answer the public's questions about disparities in cancer rates among different ethnic groups and communities.