State Health Registry issues Cancer in Iowa 2013 report, highlights breast cancer treatment and detection
Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The latest annual report on cancer in Iowa estimates 6,400 Iowans will die from cancer in 2013, 17 times the number of deaths caused by auto fatalities. In addition, an estimated 17,300 new cancers will be diagnosed among Iowa residents, according to the “Cancer in Iowa: 2013” report released today by the State Health Registry of Iowa, based in the University of Iowa College of Public Health.

Charles Lynch
Charles Lynch

“Cancer continues to remain a leading cause of death in Iowa,” says Charles Lynch, UI professor of epidemiology and medical director of the registry. “The distribution of different types of cancer is comparable to what the State Health Registry has been reporting in recent years, without any major shifts.”

The report, based on data from the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Iowa Cancer Registry, is available online in the publications section on the Registry’s website, or by calling the registry at 319-335-8609. The report includes county-by-county statistics, summaries of new research projects, and a section focused on breast cancer, the most commonly registered cancer among women in Iowa.

“Today there are over 33,000 women in Iowa living with a diagnosis of breast cancer,” Lynch says. “This reflects good news in that, thanks to early detection and more effective treatment, the mortality rate for breast cancer has declined 40 percent since its peak in 1992 and, consequently, survival rates for breast cancer have been increasing.”

George Weiner, director of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI, says prolonged efforts to prevent, detect, and treat cancer will continue to result in steadily declining cancer death rates.

George Weiner
George Weiner

“We must continue to emphasize that, especially in the case of breast cancer, early detection is the key,” Weiner says. “Breast cancer control centers on women getting mammograms, the single most effective method of early detection.

“Early detection of breast cancer with screening mammography means that treatment can be started earlier in the course of the disease, possibly before it has spread. There are effective treatment options for early stage breast cancer that prolong survival, thereby decreasing the rate of breast cancer deaths.”

“We must continue to emphasize that, especially in the case of breast cancer, early detection is the key."

– George Weiner

Experts at Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center were the first in the state to offer one such treatment option, Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT). According to Sonia Sugg, associate professor of surgery with the UI Carver College of Medicine and medical director of UI Breast Health, IORT is not only more convenient for patients, since radiation is delivered immediately following surgery rather than in multiple treatments, but also decreases side effects such as red rashes and skin irritations compared to traditional radiation therapy.

Sonia Sugg
Sonia Sugg

“IORT eliminates certain barriers to a patient’s adherence to the traditional series of radiation treatments—barriers such as time, money, distance, and access to treatment facilities,” Sugg says. “It puts them that much further along the road to recovery.”

The State Health Registry of Iowa has been gathering cancer incidence and follow-up data for the state since 1973.