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PROSTATE, LUNG, COLORECTAL & OVARIAN CANCER SCREENING TRIAL (PLCO)

Facts about PLCO Cancers


Prostate Cancer

Estimated New Cases+

189,000

Estimated Deaths+

30,200

Incidence Rate* (new cases/year)

168.9 per 100,000 men

Mortality Rate* (deaths/year)

33.9 per 100,000 men

Annual Change in Incidence Rate*
1995-99

1.4% increase

Annual Change in Mortality Rate*
1994-99

4.3% decrease

+from Cancer Facts & Figures 2002, American Cancer Society

*from Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Cancer Statistics Review, 1973-1999; Age-adjusted to the 2000 U.S. Standard population

The prostate is a male sex gland about the size of a walnut. Located just below the bladder, the prostate surrounds the upper part of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder. Its function is to produce the milky fluid that carries the sperm during ejaculation.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. Based on current U.S. rates, about 16 of every 100 men born today will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime, while about 3 of every 100 men will die from this disease.

Although prostate cancer can occur in men of all ages, about 70% of cases are in men over the age of 65. Men are at greater risk if prostate cancer runs in their family, especially if a father or brother has had the disease. African-American men are also at increased risk of prostate cancer, although researchers are not sure of the reasons. Some studies have shown that a diet high in fat may also increase risk.

In the National Cancer Institute-sponsored study, the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial, researchers are studying whether using certain screening tests will save lives. For prostate cancer they are studying whether a digital rectal exam plus a blood test for prostate-specific antigen will decrease deaths due to the disease.

A digital rectal exam or DRE is a physical exam where a health professional feels for abnormalities in the prostate gland. Because the prostate is located near the rectum, it can be felt by inserting a gloved finger into the rectum.

Prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, is a protein produced by prostate cells. PSA is frequently elevated in the blood of men with prostate cancer. The Food and Drug Administration has approved PSA for monitoring patients after prostate cancer treatment and for detection of prostate cancer in conjunction with DRE in men age 50 or over. However, it is still unknown whether PSA screening leads to reductions in mortality from prostate cancer.

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Lung Cancer

Estimated New Cases+

169,400

Estimated Deaths+

154,900

Incidence Rate* (new cases/year)

65.9 per 100,000 men

Mortality Rate* (deaths/year)

57.7 per 100,000 men

Annual Change in Incidence Rate*
1995-99

0.9% decrease

Annual Change in Mortality Rate*
1994-99

1.9% decrease

+from Cancer Facts & Figures 2002, American Cancer Society

*from Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Cancer Statistics Review, 1973-1999; Age-adjusted to the 2000 U.S. Standard population

The lungs make up the major part of the respiratory system. They are a pair of cone-shaped organs that occupy most of the chest cavity and sit on each side of the area that contains the heart, trachea (windpipe), and esophagus. The lungs remove carbon dioxide, a waste product of the body's cells, and take in oxygen, which is necessary to live and carry out normal activities.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women. It is the second most frequently diagnosed cancer in men and women.

Tobacco users -- especially those who smoke cigarettes -- are at the greatest risk for lung cancer. Smokers also multiply their risk when they are exposed to industrial substances such as asbestos and arsenic. Radon, an odorless, colorless gas found naturally at varying levels in the ambient air, may increase risk, especially in smokers.

In the National Cancer Institute-sponsored Prostate, Lung, Colon, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial, researchers are studying whether using certain screening tests will save lives. For lung cancer, they are studying whether regular chest x-rays will help to detect lung cancer in both men and women. X-rays are often used to help diagnose the disease once symptoms occur, but its usefulness in finding cancers before symptoms occur is unknown.

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Colorectal Cancer

Estimated New Cases+

148,300

Estimated Deaths+

56,600

Incidence Rate* (new cases/year)

55.1 per 100,000 people

Mortality Rate* (deaths/year)

21.7 per 100,000 people

Annual Change in Incidence Rate*
1995-99

0.3% increase

Annual Change in Mortality Rate*
1994-99

1.7% decrease

+from Cancer Facts & Figures 2002, American Cancer Society

*from Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Cancer Statistics Review, 1973-1999; Age-adjusted to the 2000 U.S. Standard population

The colon and rectum are the lowest portion of the digestive system. The colon is the last five or six feet of the intestine, and the rectum is the last eight to ten inches of the colon. Because the areas are connected, cancer researchers often report this as a single type of cancer.

Colorectal cancers are the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women. Deaths from colorectal cancer are the third most frequent cause of cancer death in both men and women.

Family history of the disease and a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease or polyps are factors known to increase a person's risk of the colorectal cancer. A diet high in fat and low in dietary fiber may also increase a person's risk.

In the National Cancer Institute-sponsored Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial, researchers are studying whether using certain screening tests to detect cancer will reduce the number of deaths from the disease. For colon cancer, these researchers are testing flexible sigmoidoscopy. During a sigmoidoscopy, a thin, lighted viewing instrument is inserted into the rectum to look at the inside of the intestine.

For more information on Colorectal Cancer, click below:


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Ovarian Cancer

Estimated New Cases+

23,300

Estimated Deaths+

13,900

Incidence Rate* (new cases/year)

17.1 per 100,000 women

Mortality Rate* (deaths/year)

9.0 per 100,000 women

Annual Change in Incidence Rate*
1995-99

0.7% decrease

Annual Change in Mortality Rate*
1994-99

1.0% decrease

+from Cancer Facts & Figures 2002, American Cancer Society

*from Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Cancer Statistics Review, 1973-1999; Age-adjusted to the 2000 U.S. Standard population

The ovaries are a pair of almond-shaped female reproductive organs located in the pelvis on either side of the uterus (the womb). They are the body's main source of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones control the development of female body characteristics, such as the breasts, body shape, and body hair, as well as the menstrual cycle.

Ovarian cancer can occur in women of all ages, but the highest rates are for women over age 60. Women who have never had children and women who have had breast cancer have a doubled risk for the disease. A family history of the disease may also be a risk factor. Ovarian cancer is a "silent" cancer with no obvious signs or symptoms until late in its development.

In the National Cancer Institute-sponsored Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Screening Trial, researchers are studying whether using certain screening tests to detect cancer will reduce the number of deaths from the disease. For ovarian cancer, the researchers are testing whether using a blood test for the tumor marker known as CA-125 and transvaginal ultrasound will decrease the number of deaths from the disease.

CA-125 is a protein produced by some ovarian cancer cells. CA-125 levels may go up in women with ovarian cancer. However, high levels of CA-125 also occur during pregnancy and menstruation, and in the presence of endometriosis, benign ovarian tumors, and with other cancers.

For transvaginal ultrasound, a tampon-sized probe is inserted into the vagina to give off high-frequency sound waves. The pattern of echoes produced by the sound waves creates a picture, known as a sonogram, which is shown on a monitor like a TV screen. Because healthy tissues, fluid-filled cysts, and cancer produce different echoes, the test is useful in diagnosing ovarian diseases.

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