The University of Alabama at Birmingham says a new federal program focused on disease prevention is having a positive impact on the region. UAB’s local coalition aims to decrease death rates for cervical and breast cancer.
“Our program focused on women in eight counties in Alabama, particularly around screening for breast cancer and cervical cancer,” says Dr. Edward Partridge, Director of UAB’s Comprehensive Cancer Society.
Partridge says within two years, 14% more women received a mammogram and more than 10% got a Pap test. But Partridge says there’s a demographic gap in cancer rates.
“Populations that have less education, lower income, no insurance are more at risk to die from the disease.”
Partridge says of the 26,000 people who will be diagnosed with cancer this year, 10,000 will die from the disease. He says the best approach to cancer treatment is prevention.
“We’ve made advances in treatment without any question as the mortality rates for cancer go down about one to one-and-a-half percent per year since 1990,” says Partridge. “Part of that is attributed to increases in our ability to treat disease after it occurs. But I do want to emphasize still that prevention and early detection is ultimately more important than the treatment.”
Partridge says there are easy ways to prevent cancer. They include not smoking, eating healthy, exercising and getting screened for breast, cervical and colorectal screenings.
“If men and women in the state and nation did those three things appropriately, we would reduce the cancer burden by at least fifty percent.”