Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Thursday show the rate of lung cancer is in decline around the nation. The same is true in Arkansas. After a steady increase for a number of years, the state has seen a sharp decline in lung cancer from around 84 cases per 100,000 people in 2007 to 70 cases per 100,000, according to Dr. Gary Wheeler of the Arkansas Department of Health. Though he says the state struggled for many years to prevent a rise in lung cancer.
“That’s a really dramatic downturn...I think while lung cancer reflects things that were done 20 years ago, we do know that when people stop smoking they begin to see benefits as far as malignancy, cardiac disease and other things that potentially happen even quicker,” Wheeler says.
He says the state struggled for many years to prevent a rise in lung cancer:
“For a long time we hadn’t seen any dips in our cancer rates.” He says. “Our rates were still going up at a time when the national rates had been going down for a while. And this is to me the big story that up to about 3 or 4 years ago our overall rates of cancer were still rising and now we’re finally seeing a decline. So that’s very, very good information for the state.”
Wheeler thinks the decline is due in large part to public health outreach efforts educating people about the dangers of smoking.