There has been a lot of progress in the fight against cancer. Cancer death rates have dropped, but the gains haven't been experienced equally.
Cancer death rates remain high for some minorities, including African-Americans. There are geographic differences, too. Death rates for breast and colorectal cancers have declined faster in New England than in other parts of the country. Cancer is also more likely to be fatal for people living in poverty or those without a college degree.
Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical and scientific officer of the American Cancer Society, says many cancer deaths could be averted if these demographic gaps were narrowed. He discussed the future of cancer prevention, screening and treatment, as the American Cancer Society lays out its vision for cancer control in a series of articles that are being published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians starting Tuesday.
These interview highlights have been edited for length and clarity.
Can you put the current cancer situation into perspective? Where have we been, and how far have we come?