New projections show a leveling off in the number of Iowans who’ll be diagnosed with cancer this year, and in the number of cancer deaths. University of Iowa epidemiology professor Doctor Charles Lynch is medical director of the annual report, which is called the Iowa Cancer Registry.

Lynch says: “We’re estimating this year that there’ll be 15,700 new cancers diagnosed among Iowans and that there’ll be 6,400 Iowans who die with cancer listed as their underlying cause of death. It’s very similar to what was reported last year.” The number of new cancer cases reflects a slight drop of 300 cases statewide from last year, while the number of cancer deaths is expected to increase by 100.

Lynch says the report is broken down by sex, though two of the top three cancer killers are the same for men and women. Lynch says: “Among women, the leading cause of cancer deaths is lung cancer followed by breast cancer and colorectal cancer. Among men, the top three causes of cancer death are lung cancer, followed by prostate cancer and colorectal cancer.” Just last week, Governor Culver signed a bill into law raising the state tax on cigarettes a dollar a pack.

Lynch says that was great news, as lung cancer accounts for three in every ten cancer deaths in Iowa. Lynch says, “We’re excited here about the prospects of the increasing excise tax on tobacco products in the state because that is spurring many people to consider smoking cessation, as well as it will encourage youth to not take up the habit in the first place, which in the long run, is going to save people from dying from a disease like lung cancer.”

Still, Lynch says they don’t expect to see a dramatic decrease in lung cancer cases next year, or even the following year, but he says the tobacco tax hike will help in bringing those numbers down over the coming decade. 

Audio: Radio Iowa’s Matt Kelley report. :44 MP3