DATABASE: Cancer Report Card

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Science  12 Sep 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5639, pp. 1449
DOI: 10.1126/science.301.5639.1449b

More Americans are surviving breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer, but a steady decline in overall cancer death and incidence rates leveled off in the 1990s, according to the latest status report from the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) and other organizations. Explore these and other cancer stats at SEER, an epidemiology storehouse from NCI. SEER, which stands for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program, began caching cancer information in 1973 and now garners data from more than a dozen state and local cancer registries, covering about 26% of the U.S. population.

The site offers two kinds of statistics. For an overview of cancer trends, try the Fast Stats feature, which furnishes measures such as incidence and mortality for more than 30 cancer types. For instance, although the overall death rate from lung cancer has fallen, it has not declined for women. Completing a patient confidentiality agreement gives researchers access to information on tumor diagnosis and treatment for each of the more than 3 million cancer cases held in the database. SEER plans to add new features to celebrate its 30th anniversary in October, including a set of landmark papers and a bibliography of works that use the program's data.

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