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RELEASE: April 9, 2002
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

One in Five Oklahoma Deaths is From Various Forms of Cancer

April is Cancer Control Month. Although the overall U. S. cancer incidence rate has decreased an average of 0.9 percent per year from 1990 to 1996, cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the U.S., and is exceeded only by heart disease. In the U. S., one of every four deaths is from cancer, and one in five Oklahomans will die from various forms of the disease, according to health officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

An estimated 1,284,900 Americans are expected to be newly diagnosed with the disease in 2002. This year about 555,500 Americans are expected to die of cancer, more than 1,500 people per day. It is estimated that 16,900 Oklahomans will develop some form of cancer and 7,300 will die from the disease.

Cancer incidence and death rates vary by cancer site, gender, race, and ethnicity. Minorities, particularly blacks, continue to endure, disproportionately, higher cancer incidence and mortality rates than whites.

A number of risk factors increase a person's chance of developing cancer. Many types of cancer are related to:

  • the use of tobacco,
  • an unbalanced diet,
  • exposure to ultraviolet and ionizing radiation,
  • exposure to chemicals and other substances,
  • the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT),
  • the use of diethylstilbestrol (DES), and
  • having close relatives with certain types of cancer.

The public can protect itself by avoiding known cancer risk factors whenever possible. It is also important to discuss with your health provider the benefits of regular check ups and cancer screening tests.

Cancer can cause a variety of symptoms such as:

  • thickening or lump in the breast or other part of the body,
  • obvious change in a wart or mole,
  • a sore that does not heal,
  • nagging cough or hoarseness,
  • changes in bowel or bladder habits,
  • indigestion or difficulty swallowing,
  • unexplained changes in weight, and
  • unusual bleeding or discharge.

These or other symptoms are not always caused by cancer. They may be caused by infections, benign tumors, or other problems. It is important to see the doctor about any of these symptoms or about other physical changes. Only a doctor can make a diagnosis.

Additional information on cancer is available from the Take Charge! Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (405-271-4072); American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org); National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov); Cancer Information Service (www.cis.nci.nih.gov); and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control (www.cdc.gov).

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