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Cancer Burden and Prevention Strategies


Cancer remains to be among the leading killer diseases in the United States and most countries across the world. The pathologic condition involves the uncontrolled division of anomalous cells, which invade and spread to other tissues through the lymphatic and circulatory systems. To enhance the understanding of cancer, this essay examines cancer statistics, prevention strategies, and management interventions aimed at mitigating outcomes and improving the quality of life.

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Epidemiological data depict that cancer imposes a significant burden on humans and the health care system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2017), the United States recorded 1,596,486 new cases of cancer and 591,686 cancer deaths in the same period. Breast cancer recorded the highest incidence rate of 12.9 followed by prostate cancer and lung and bronchus cancer with 95.5 and 58.3 cases per 100,000 people respectively.

However, lung and bronchus cancer recorded the highest mortality rate of 42.2 followed by breast and prostate cancer with 20.5 and 19.1 per 100,000 people respectively. The estimated new cases in 2017 are 1,688,780 600, 920 deaths for cancer in the United States. These statistics demonstrate a percentage increase of 5.8% for new cases and a 1.7% rise in deaths recorded.

Prevention Strategies

Primary Prevention

Primary prevention involves the reduction of disease risk in the entire population through the modification of lifestyles and avoidance of risky behaviors. The provision of guidelines and education of the population on risk factors of cancer enables them to change their lifestyles and avoid risky behaviors. Nevertheless, some primary prevention measures, such as vaccination against human papillomavirus, aims to protect susceptible groups of people with high-disease risk from developing cervical cancer. According to Colditz and Bohlke (2014), lifestyle and human behaviors are essential elements with a significant influence on the risk of cancer in the population. Therefore, primary prevention is an essential strategy for the achievement of the public health objective of lowering cancer incidence and promoting a cancer-free population.

Secondary Prevention

Secondary prevention refers to the early detection of cancer in its latent stage through screening to enable the introduction of early treatment, which is significant in improving patient health outcomes. Fitzmaurice et al. (2017) explain that the essential principle in secondary prevention for cancer is the ability to detect the disease at its primary level attributed to a positive response to treatment. Some of the common screening procedures include Pap smear, mammography, digital rectal examination, serum prostate-specific antigen, and low-dose CT scanning. The establishment of community intervention programs for cancer screening adequately influences the outcome of the disease burden in the population.

Tertiary Prevention

Tertiary prevention aims at reducing disability and mortality in people diagnosed with and treated for the disease by reducing the impact of an ongoing illness or its treatment. It involves the treatment of cancer cells using radiotherapy, chemotherapy, surgery, immunotherapy, hormone therapy, and stem-cell transplant to destroy or halt the growth of cells. Besides, the management of side effects, such as loss of appetite, anemia, pain, and rehabilitation programs to improve the quality of life, the ability to function, and life expectancy.

Tertiary measures are essential in addressing both morbidity and the psychological burden of cancer on the patient and the family (Fitzmaurice et al., 2017). Management and rehabilitation measures target the improvement of the quality of life through the provision of good nutrition and exercise programs.

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Screening and Surveillance Strategies

Provision of Cancer Intervention Programs

Cancer prevention remains the ultimate goal in public health practice for the improvement of population health. The aim is to reduce the global burden through the reduction of disease risk, prevalence, and incidence. Knowledge of the natural history of the disease is essential in the determination of effective intervention programs at different stages of disease development (Ryerson & Massetti, 2017). Therefore, rolling out of intervention programs involves the formulation of policies to regulate exposure to environmental pollutants with known carcinogenic effects, focus on early diagnosis, and reinforcement of the health systems to utilize rural health workers in the provision of healthcare services to reduce the disease burden in the population

Availability of Cancer Data

The fundamental efforts of fighting and reducing cancer burden within the population depend on the availability of comprehensive, valid, and reliable data regarding the population cancer statistics. Ryerson and Massetti (2017) state that continued funding for research programs to identify risk factors and enhance the availability of cancer statistics on incidence, mortality, exposure, and disease risk is essential in the formulation of policies, development of intervention strategies, and improvement of health services.

Thus, healthcare institutions must give importance to cancer research and the availability of updated data on cancer statistics. Screening of the population and keeping of medical reports in health facilities are substantial interventions required to mitigate cancer for they aid in the formulation of preventive measures and the adoption of cost-effective intervention strategies.


Cancer is among the leading causes of death in developed and developing countries in the world. Some of the leading types of cancer in the United States affect breast, prostate, and lung. Lifestyle changes and the modification of risky behaviors are significant strategies in the reduction of cancer incidences in the population. The early treatment of cancer through screening boosts the recovery process and improvement of health outcomes. Nonetheless, tertiary interventions involving surgery, chemotherapy, and the management of side effects are fundamental in alleviating disease burden in the population.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Cancer data and statisticsWeb.

Colditz, G., & Bohlke, K. (2014). Priorities for the primary prevention of breast cancer. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 64(3), 186-194. Web.

Fitzmaurice, C., Allen, C., Barber, R., Barregard, L., Bhutta, Z., & Brenner, H., … Naghavi, M. (2017). Global, regional, and national cancer incidence, mortality, years of life lost, years lived with disability, and disability-adjusted life-years for 32 cancer groups, 1990 to 2015. JAMA Oncology, 3(4), 524-548. Web.

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Ryerson, A., & Massetti, G. (2017). CDC’s public health surveillance of cancer. Preventing Chronic Disease, 14(39), 1-8. Web.

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