2006 Lung Cancer Stats for California – Good News or Bad?
The California Cancer Registry and the American Cancer
Society have just released a new booklet “California Cancer
Facts and Figures, 2006”. For those of you living in California
with any form of cancer, I urge you to get this informative
For this report, I will just be focusing on the stats for Lung
Cancer in California. California is a leader in tobacco tax
initiatives. Following the cancer trends in California will
determine what measures the rest of the country must take to
decrease the lung cancer rates overall.
Good News! – Basically
Basically, the news is very good. From the period of 1988 –
2002, all types of incidences of cancer in California went
down by 12%. Cancer mortality declined by 19%. Thanks to
Proposition 99 – the California tobacco control initiative
passed in 1988, tobacco-related cancers sharply declined,
much more than any other state. Tobacco-related cancers
include cancers of the lung, larynx, mouth, pancreas,
stomach and bladder. However, lung cancer still causes
more deaths than any other cancer.
What About New Cases?
Out of all Californians alive today, about 15 million will eventually get some form of cancer, that is about two in five.
Over the years, cancer will strike around three out of every
four families. This year alone, there will be more than 15 new
cases diagnosed every hour of every day. For men, of all the
new cases diagnosed, 13% of them will have lung cancer.
For women, that number is 12%.
Presently, about 85% of lung cancer is caused by cigarette
smoking. However, many other cancers are caused by
tobacco as well. Overall, one of every three cancer deaths is
due to tobacco. The incidence of lung cancer decreased by
26% in the time period mentioned above. Needless to say, for
those smokers who have quit smoking, your chances of
getting lung cancer decreases over time. After 15 years, the
risk is only slightly higher than among people who have
I think we all know by now that secondhand smoke has been
determined to cause cancer in humans. But did you know that
every year in the U.S., about 3,000 non-smoking adults die of
lung cancer directly as a result of secondhand smoke? The
most recent high-profile example is Dana Reeve, wife of
Christopher Reeve. It is believed she may have contracted it
from secondhand smoke as a result of her years as an
entertainer in music clubs.
Secondhand smoke is particularly harmful to children. The
good news is in 2004, more than 80% of California
households with children younger than 5 completely stopped
smoking in the home.
Alarming Smoking Trends
Given that lung cancer rates in California have dropped
significantly, it would be logical to assume that the smoking
rates have also dropped, wouldn’t it? And in fact they have,
among most adults and teenagers. In 2004, 15% of California
adults still smoked.
The alarming trend is the increase in 18-24 year old smokers.
They are the fastest growing rate of smokers in California and
the tobacco companies are targeting them as the “smokers of
the future”. The smoking rate for 18-24 year olds was 18% in
What Can Be Done?
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in California. All
cancers caused by tobacco and heavy use of alcohol can be
prevented completely. In 2006, 18,000 Californians will die
because of tobacco use.
Early diagnosis can save lives by identifying cancer when it is
in the curable stage. The five year survival rate for most
cancers is very good if it’s caught early. Unfortunately, the
statistics for lung cancer are not so good, mostly because it is
difficult to diagnose early enough.
The California tobacco control initiative has helped to put a
dent in the lung cancer rate. Californians need to stay
informed and aware. More cigarette tax legislation is on the