Cancer researchers at the University of Iowa project fewer Iowans will die from that disease in the year ahead, though many more new cancer cases will be diagnosed.

The State Health Registry of Iowa is compiled using data from more than 150 hospitals, clinics and medical laboratories across Iowa, as well as referral facilities in neighboring states. Dr. Chuck Lynch is a U-of-I epidemiology professor and is medical director of the 35-year-old registry.

Dr. Lynch says, "We expect to see 16-thousand new cancers diagnosed among Iowans and, sadly, we expect about six-thousand-300 cancer deaths among Iowans this year, three-thousand occurring in females and 33-hundred among males."

The number of cancer deaths is down a hundred from last year, with the number of new cases rising by 300. Lynch says lung cancer remains the top killer in Iowa, accounting for more than one in four cancer deaths. "This is very interesting right now because, as you’re well aware, the legislature is discussing smoking bans in this point in time," Dr. Lynch says, adding, "In terms of what we know about lung cancer, this would be the most important thing we could do in the long run to reduce mortality from lung cancer."

He says lung cancer cases are actually starting to decline among Iowa men, while they’re still rising among women. Even if a statewide smoking ban -is- enacted by legislators, Lynch says it may be 20 or 25 years before there’s a visible, significant impact on public health. Dr. Lynch says: "We’re not going to see immediate benefits from the smoking ban but we certainly will in the long run. It won’t only be from lung cancer, it’ll also be from heart disease and lung diseases like emphysema. These are very debilitating diseases for people as they get older."

Iowa’s population is getting older, by percentage. Lynch says that fact has also been factored into the numbers. Dr. Lynch says, "Cancer really is a disease of older individuals. Eighty-percent of our cases occur in people 55 years and older and 75-percent of the people 65 and older. As we have a larger proportion of people in our population that are elderly, we will see an increase in the absolute number of cases of cancer." Dr. Lynch says the most common cancer killers for both sexes remain the same: lung, breast and colorectal for women; lung, prostate and colorectal for men. He says earlier cancer detection and better treatments are leading to reductions in overall cancer mortality.

Links to the current and previous annual reports are available in the "Publications" section at the registry’s Web site at "". You can also get a copy of the report by calling the registry at (319) 335-8609.