Cancer: Not all bad news

By MEL MARTIN

THE Mid North Coast has some of the highest incidences of lung cancer, kidney cancer and melanoma in the state, yet most are preventable according to Regional Programs Coordinator for the Cancer Council Mid North Coast office Kelly Williams.

Figures from a Cancer Institute NSW report showed that on the Mid North Coast there are more than 62 cases of melanoma per 100,000 people compared to a state average of 45, more than 45 cases of lung cancer per 100,000 people compared to 41 in NSW, and that the incidence of kidney cancer is the highest in the state at 14 per 100,000, compared to 12.5.

Ms Williams said that while nothing specific explained the high incidence of lung or kidney cancer, our climate and coastal lifestyle could partly explain the melanoma.

"Unfortunately, lung cancer generally has a rather high incidence, and the survival rate for lung cancer is low at 12 per cent for men and 15 per cent for women," she said.

"The good news is that 90 per cent of lung cancer can be prevented by not smoking, and 95 per cent of melanoma can be cured if caught early.

"This reinforces the importance of early detection."

Ms Williams said people could take action to try to lower their risk of cancer, such as maintaining healthy body weight, being physically active, enjoying a balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables, and limiting their intake of alcohol.

While the death rate from cancer is at its lowest level since 1972, The Cancer Incidence and Mortality Report 2003 showed that a growing number of people are diagnosed with the disease, with one man in two and one woman in three likely to get cancer in their lifetime.

Deaths from prostate, breast and bowel cancer have fallen in NSW by more than 20 per cent in the last 10 years, thanks to early detection, and better treatment and care.

But the incidence of lung and breast cancer in women has been rising, and melanoma continues to rise across the board.

And despite survival rates from cancer having nearly doubled since 1972, the disease represents nearly a third of deaths in NSW.



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