Despite advances in early detection, treatment and prevention, a University of Iowa report predicts more Iowans will die from cancer in 2012 compared to last year. The annual “Cancer in Iowa” study from the State Health Registry of Iowa, based at the U-of-I College of Public Health, predicts cancer will kill 6,400 Iowans this year, up 100 deaths from a year ago.

Dr. George Weiner, director of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the U-of-I, says lung cancer remains the top cancer killer — and it’s also the most preventable form of cancer. “In general with cancer, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure and this applies nowhere better than in the area of lung cancer,” Dr. Weiner says.

“Obviously, decreasing risk agents such as tobacco that we know cause lung cancer is really the way we’re going to reduce the burden of lung cancer in our community.” The report says lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Iowa and nationwide.

In 2012, lung cancer will account for one out of every four cancer deaths. Weiner, who is also president of the Board of Directors for the Iowa Cancer Consortium, says more Iowans are learning the importance of being screened for cancer, especially if they’re at an elevated risk.

“We are making progress in screening and in therapy with lung cancer, all be it not as fast as we would like,” he says. “We know that lung cancer screening with CAT scans can have a modest effect on deaths from lung cancer in people who are heavy smokers.” The top cancer killers in Iowa women are: breast, lung and colon, while for Iowa men, it’s prostate, lung and colon.

Weiner says progress in the fight against cancer is steady but slow. “We’re able to detect some lung cancers earlier,” he says. “We are developing new treatments as we identify lung cancers that are not all alike, that have different genetic causes and we have a number of exciting new treatments that can help shrink some lung cancers.”

He emphasizes, shrink, but not cure. The report notes, the projected 6,400 Iowans who will die from cancer this year is 17 times the number of deaths caused by motor vehicle crashes.

See the full report here: