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Report: More Cases of Cancer, But Fewer Deaths in Pennsylvania

More people in Pennsylvania are being diagnosed with cancer, but less are dying.

That’s according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which released the State of Cancer Care in America: 2014 — the first-ever report of its kind.

According to ASCO, the report provides a “comprehensive look” at demographic, economic and oncology practice trends and how they will affect the United States in the future.

David Parda, president of the Pennsylvania Society of Oncology and Hematology (PSOH), said the reason more people are being diagnosed with cancer is because of the aging population.

“Currently, there are 1.6 million people in the United States diagnosed with cancer each year,” Parda said, “and 53 percent of these patients are individuals who are 65 years of age or older.”

He said 68 percent of cancer deaths occur in people over the age of 65.

There are about 13.7 million cancer survivors in the United States, and that number is expected to rise to 18 million by 2022.

The report projected that the number of cancer cases in the U.S. per year will increase by 45 percent to 2.3 million.

“The absolute increases is a function of an aging population and also lifestyle types of effects like tobacco, alcohol, diet, obesity and physical inactivity,” Parda said.

Marilyn Heine, a hematologist and medical oncologist, said Pennsylvania’s averages are not as good as the national averages.

“There has been a decrease in mortality in Pennsylvania similar to the United States overall, but Pennsylvania has a higher incidence and mortality overall compared to the United States,” Heine said. “So while there’s been somewhat of a parallel, we have exceeded the national averages.”

ASCO’s report showed that 108 males and 109 females in Pennsylvania were diagnosed with invasive cancer each day of 2012.

According to Heine, lung and bronchial cancer were the most common diagnoses overall in 2010, followed by breast cancer in women and colon cancer in both men and women.

The report revealed a 23 percent decrease in cancer research since 2003 and an upcoming shortage of oncologists since more than 50 percent are over the age of 50.

According to Heine, community care practices have also taken a hit, and they’re only expected to get worse.

“Small and mid-sized practices serve more than a third of new patients yet nearly two-thirds of small community practices may merge, sell or close in the next year alone, creating a new travel burden for patients and potentially disrupting their care,” Heine said.

Currently, 13 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties do not have hematologist oncologists.