More Cancer Survivors: More Healthy Living

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A new batch of cancer statistics was published online today and it bodes good news, relatively speaking, for people diagnosed with cancer.  The report found that overall cancer mortality rates have steadily decreased over the last 16 years, translating to approximating 767,000 fewer deaths from cancer.

Avoiding inactivity is one of the latest pieces of advice for cancer survivors.

To read the report visit CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

The lower cancer death rate occurred in all racial/ethnic groups in both men and women, with the exception of American Indian/Alaska Native women, in whom rates were stable.

A few highlights from the report:
•    Among men, death rates for all races combined decreased by 21.0 percent between 1990 and 2006, with decreases in lung, prostate, and colorectal cancer rates accounting for nearly 80 percent of the total.

•    Among women, overall cancer death rates between 1991 and 2006 decreased by 12.3 percent, with decreases in breast and colorectal cancer rates accounting for 60 percent of the total.

•    Breast, lung, and colon are the three most common types of cancer in women, accounting for an estimated 52 percent of cases in 2010. Breast cancer alone is expected to account for 28 percent of all new cancer cases among women.

And although the lower rates of mortality (and incidence) is overall great news, cancer still accounts for more deaths than heart disease in persons younger than 85 years, the authors note.

The report comes at a time when research is now clearly showing that a healthy lifestyle can help cancer survivors, both physiologically and psychologically. For the latest news and information, visit AICR’s News section for Cancer Patients and Survivors News section.

Cancer Survivors on the Web

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On Friday, at the Cancer Survivorship Research Conference in Washington, D.C., much discussion revolved around the fact that cancer survivors are turning to the Internet for help. Wen-ying Sylvia Chou of the National Cancer Institute said according to a recent survey, cancer survivors who have access to the Internet are more likely to search for health-related information than people without cancer.

Among young people living with cancer, social networking sites are replacing the peer and support groups that connect survivors. One such site, Planet Cancer, targets cancer survivors between the ages of 20 and 40.

Another social networking site that is open to all age groups is the Know Cancer Community, which features an inspirational blog about fighting cancer and a forum for members to share ideas.

Young survivors are also finding out cancer information from video games, said Brandon Hayes-Latin, an MD from Oregon Health Sciences University.  In a research trial, young cancer patients who played a game called Re-Mission ncreased their understanding of cancer and better adhered to treatment guidelines, compared to survivors who didn’t play the game. The game is free to download or order for young adults with cancer on the Re-Mission website.

Cancer survivors can also find online information on common questions related to diet and physical activity at the Cancer Patients and Survivors section of the AICR website.

Cancer Patients and Survivors: Just Move!

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Yesterday, Mya posted about research exploring how physical activity plays a role in helping cancer survivors feel better.

Based on that growing body of research, the American College of Sports Medicine released the first ever guidelines for physical activity and cancer survivors yesterday at their annual meeting in Baltimore.  AICR is exhibiting at the conference, so I was able to catch the presentation on this topic.

The Number One Recommendation:  Cancer patients and survivors should engage in physical activity.   Basically, as much as possible follow the 2008 federal Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans:  at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic activity and 2 times per week resistance training.

The risk of not being active greatly outweighs risk that might occur from engaging in activity according to the panel that developed the guidelines.  The research showed improved quality of life, fitness, flexibility and greater physical functioning in patients and survivors who engaged in physical activity.

For trainers and  fitness professionals there are specific recommendations regarding doing individual assessments and tailoring programs for specific diagnoses.

But the strong message was to find a way to be active.

Read more about the guidelines here.

Check out AICR’s information on exercise for cancer survivors with tips on getting started and keeping it going.