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ACS researcher: Too soon to draw conclusions from new data finding no health benefit to aspirin

​Results from a large new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine show no health benefit to taking daily aspirin, but Eric Jacobs, Ph.D., our senior scientific director of epidemiology research, say it’s premature to draw any firm conclusions from the study.

The study provides some evidence against the routine use of aspirin for disease prevention in men and women over age 70 without cardiovascular disease. A higher cancer death rate among aspirin users in the study has not been seen in other randomized trials. 

"No clear conclusions about the effect of aspirin on risk of death from cancer can be drawn at this point," says Eric. “The new results from ASPREE do not mean that people (with or without a history of cancer) who are taking aspirin because they have had a heart attack or stroke, should stop taking aspirin."

To read more on this, check out David Sampson's ACS Pressroom Blog. David is the director of medical and scientific communications for the American Cancer Society.

  • FDA acknowledges youth e-cigarette crisis

    ACS CAN says the agency should use its full regulatory authority to address the problem

    Below is a statement ACS CAN issued on Sept. 13, the day the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acknowledged that youth use of electronic cigarettes has "reached an epidemic proportion." As a result, FDA is giving several leading electronic cigarette manufacturers 60 days to produce a plan to reduce youth sales.

    The following is a statement from Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN):

    "Today's FDA announcement acknowledging teen electronic cigarette use as a public health epidemic is a welcome and necessary first step to addressing what FDA recognizes as a serious problem. Clearly the FDA knows who the industry culprits are in this epidemic and as such should exercise its full regulatory authority over these products rather than allow the industry to voluntarily self-correct.

    "When Congress passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act in 2009 it gave FDA the tools and authority needed to adequately regulate tobacco products and prevent youth from starting tobacco use. However, because of numerous rule-making delays and a seeming reluctance to fully assert its authority, FDA for years has repeatedly missed opportunities to keep tobacco products out of the hands of our children and we have seen e-cigarette use among youth hit epidemic levels.

    "We urge FDA to require pre-market review of all new tobacco products and prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, unless those products undergo full pre-market review. This is essential to preventing another generation of teens from becoming addicted to dangerous tobacco products."

  • Latest global cancer estimates released by ACS and World Health Organization

    One in 5 men and one in 6 women worldwide develop cancer during their lifetime, and one in 8 men and one in 11 women die from the disease

    The latest global cancer estimates were published today in CA: A Cancer Journal for CliniciansIt is a joint report by ACS and the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and three ACS staffers are co-authors:  Lindsey A. Torre, MSPH; Ahmedin JemalDVM, PhD; and Rebecca L. Siegel, MPH.

    The article's introduction notes that "cancer incidence and mortality are rapidly growing worldwide," and that "cancer is expected to rank as the leading cause of death and the single most important barrier to increasing life expectancy in every country of the world in the 21st century." 

    Global cancer burden (excluding include non-melanoma skin cancers) 

    • The global cancer burden is estimated to have risen to 18.1 million new cases and 9.6 million deaths in 2018
    • Worldwide, the total number of people who are alive within 5 years of a cancer diagnosis is estimated to be 43.8 million.

    The increasing cancer burden is due to several factors, including population growth and aging, as well as the changing prevalence of certain causes of cancer linked to social and economic development. This is particularly true in rapidly growing economies, where a shift is observed from cancers related to poverty and infections to cancers associated with lifestyles more typical of industrialized countries.

    Effective prevention efforts may explain the observed decrease in incidence rates for some cancers, such as lung cancer in men in Northern Europe and North America, and cervical cancer in most regions apart from Sub-Saharan Africa. However, the new data show that most countries are still faced with an increase in the absolute number of cases being diagnosed and requiring treatment and care.

    Global patterns show that for men and women combined, nearly half of the new cases and more than half of the cancer deaths worldwide in 2018 are estimated to occur in Asia, in part because the region has nearly 60% of the global population. 

    • Europe accounts for 23.4% of the global cancer cases and 20.3% of the cancer deaths, although it has only 9.0% of the global population. 
    • The Americas have 13.3% of the global population and account for 21.0% of incidence and 14.4% of mortality worldwide.
    • In contrast to other world regions, the proportions of cancer deaths in Asia and in Africa (57.3% and 7.3%, respectively) are higher than the proportions of incident cases (48.4% and 5.8%, respectively), because these regions have a higher frequency of certain cancer types associated with poorer prognosis and higher mortality rates, in addition to limited access to timely diagnosis and treatment in many countries.

    Major cancer types in 2018

    • Cancers of the lung, female breast, and colorectal are the top three cancer types in terms of incidence, and are ranked within the top five in terms of mortality (first, fifth, and second, respectively). Together, these three cancer types are responsible for one third of the cancer incidence and mortality burden worldwide. 
    • Cancers of the lung and female breast are the leading types worldwide in terms of the number of new cases; for each of these types, approximately 2.1 million diagnoses are estimated in 2018, contributing about 11.6% of the total cancer incidence burden. 
    • Colorectal cancer (1.8 million cases, 10.2% of the total) is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer, prostate cancer is the fourth (1.3 million cases, 7.1%), and stomach cancer is the fifth (1.0 million cases, 5.7%). 
    • Lung cancer is responsible for the largest number of deaths (1.8 million deaths, 18.4% of the total), because of the poor prognosis for this cancer worldwide, followed by colorectal cancer (881 000 deaths, 9.2%), stomach cancer (783 000 deaths, 8.2%), and liver cancer (782 000 deaths, 8.2%).
    • Female breast cancer ranks as the fifth leading cause of death (627 000 deaths, 6.6%) because the prognosis is relatively favorable, at least in more developed countries. 

    Global patterns by level of human development

    For many cancers, overall incidence rates in countries with high or very high Human Development Index (measurement of life span, education, and standard of living) are generally 2–3 times those in countries with low or medium HDI. However, the differences in mortality rates between these two categories of countries are smaller because lower-HDI countries have a higher frequency of certain cancer types associated with poorer survival, and access to timely diagnosis and effective treatment is less common. 

    • In men, lung cancer ranks first and prostate cancer second in incidence in both developed and developing countries.
    • In women, incidence rates for breast cancer far exceed those for other cancers in both developed and developing countries, followed by colorectal cancer in developed countries and cervical cancer in developing countries. 

    Global cancer patterns by sex

    MEN: Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men (14.5% of the total cases in men and 8.4% in women) and the leading cause of cancer death in men (about 1 in 5 of all cancer deaths). This is followed by prostate cancer (13.5%) and colorectal cancer (10.9%) for incidence and liver cancer (10.2%) and stomach cancer (9.5%) for mortality. 

    WOMEN: Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women (24.2% or about 1 in 4 of all new cancer cases diagnosed in women worldwide are breast cancer), and the cancer is the most common in 154 of the 185 countries included in the study. Breast cancer is also the leading cause of cancer death in women (15.0%), followed by lung cancer (13.8%), and colorectal cancer (9.5%), which are also the third and second most common types of cancer, respectively; cervical cancer ranks fourth for both incidence (6.6%) and mortality (7.5%).

    Worrying rise in lung cancer in women

    Lung cancer is a leading cause of death in both men and women and is the leading cause of cancer death in women in 28 countries. The highest incidence rates in women are seen in North America, Northern and Western Europe (notably in Denmark and The Netherlands), China, and Australia and New Zealand, with Hungary topping the list.

    "Best practice measures embedded in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control have effectively reduced active smoking and prevented involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke in many countries," says Dr Freddie Bray, head of the Section of Cancer Surveillance at IARC. "However, given that the tobacco epidemic is at different stages in different regions and in men and women, the results highlight the need to continue to put in place targeted and effective tobacco control policies in every country of the world." 

    "These new figures highlight that much remains to be done to address the alarming rise in the cancer burden globally and that prevention has a key role to play," says IARC Director Dr Christopher Wild. "Efficient prevention and early detection policies must be implemented urgently to complement treatments in order to control this devastating disease across the world." 

    Where to find global cancer statistics

    IARC, part of the World Health Organization, maintains an online database called the GLOBOCAN 2018 that provides estimates of incidence and mortality in 185 countries for 36 types of cancer. The address of this user-friendly site, where you can produce maps and explore visualizations of the global cancer burden, is

    Note: Our Global Cancer Facts & Figures will be published later this fall, and will include a special section on excess body weight statistics.

  • ACS selects first project in new accelerator pipeline

    Funds and intellectual support aim to help speed medical devices and technology to market

    The American Cancer Society and the Atlanta-based Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI) have selected the first project to be funded under a recently launched partnership to identify, fund, and promote promising medical devices and technologies within the ACS portfolio of current or previously-funded research. The goal of the initiative is to identify and solve critical unmet needs through innovative technology solutions to diagnose and treat cancer and bring them to market.

    The ACS and GCMI have selected Boston University's BOTLab as the first oncology project to enter the program. BOTLab, short for Biomedical Optical Technologies Lab, will receive up to $100,000 to accelerate BOTLab's near-infrared spectroscopy (NIR) technology. The aim is to use the technology to provide real-time data that can determine how well chemotherapy is working in breast cancer patients. The funding is in addition to an existing ACS grant to investigators at BOTlab intended to accelerate high-quality commercialization of innovative medical technologies.

    The initiative is part of an ACS effort to invest in later stage development projects among ACS grantees to speed the development of diagnostics, drugs, and therapies to help cancer patients. By promoting a culture of innovation and commercialization, ACS seeks to increase the impact of each donor dollar and reduce time-to-cures. ACS seeks to allow select ACS grantees to work closely with medical product development experts to translate their research ideas into high-quality products for commercial launch and patient treatment in a time and cost-efficient manner.

    Together with GCMI, the ACS will continue to identify projects from among current and past grantees that are appropriate for development of medical devices and technologies in the accelerator setting.

    Through this partnership, the two organizations will bring together healthcare centers, academic centers, leading researchers, industry, and product development experts with an international group of innovative companies to identify and solve critical unmet needs.

    ACS and GCMI have committed to jointly raise a $5 million dedicated Partnership Development Fund to cover project activity costs. The initiative aims to fund three to five projects per year.


  • Childhood exposure to secondhand smoke may increase risk of death from lung disease in adulthood

    A new ACS study suggests that long-term exposure to secondhand smoke during childhood increases the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) death in adulthood. The study also suggests secondhand smoke exposure as an adult increases the risk of death not only from COPD, but also several other conditions.

    Secondhand smoke is known to have adverse effects on the lung and vascular systems in both children and adults. But it is unknown whether childhood exposure to secondhand smoke is associated with mortality in adulthood. To explore the issue, American Cancer Society epidemiologists led by W. Ryan Diver, MSPH, (pictured here) examined associations of childhood and adult secondhand smoke exposure with death from all causes, ischemic heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among 70,900 never-smoking men and women from the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort. Study participants, primarily ages 50 to 74 at the beginning of the study, answered questions about their secondhand smoke exposure during childhood and as adults and were followed for 22 years.

    Those who reported having lived with a daily smoker throughout their childhood had 31% higher mortality from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease compared to those who did not live with a smoker. In a calculation done for this release, Ryan says the increase in COPD mortality corresponds to about 7 additional deaths per year per 100,000 never-smoking study participants. Although the study counted only deaths, the increase in fatal COPD implies that living with a smoker during childhood could also increase risk of non-fatal COPD.

    In addition, secondhand smoke exposure (10 or more hours/week) as an adult was associated with a 9% higher risk of all-cause mortality, a 27% higher risk of death from ischemic heart disease, a 23% higher risk of death from stroke, and a 42% higher risk of death from COPD.

    "This is the first study to identify an association between childhood exposure to secondhand smoke and death from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in middle age and beyond," said Ryan. "The results also suggest that adult secondhand smoke exposure increases the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease death. Overall, our findings provide further evidence for reducing secondhand smoke exposure throughout life."

    Article: Secondhand Smoke Exposure in Childhood and Adulthood in Relation to Adult Mortality Among Never Smokers; Ryan DiverEric J. JacobsSusan M. Gapstur Am J Prev Med 2018;55(3):345-352 doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2018.05.005

  • ​ACS to launch an online community to encourage collaboration among cancer researchers

    ​Later this month, our Research department will be launching an invitation-only online community where cancer researchers can connect, collaborate, and innovate. The goal? Better science.

    TheoryLab™ is the first online collaborative innovation community for cancer research. Select ACS research staff and about 60 early adopters from our grantees have been piloting the site and will serve as "catalysts" for the rest of the year to keep the conversations going.

    Our overarching goal is to inspire transdisciplinary collaborations to define and investigate the most exciting cancer research opportunities.

    It is our hope that TheoryLab will:

    • Facilitate mentorship opportunities between senior scientists and mid- to early career scientists
    • Allow for collaborative innovation among ACS funded researchers as well as individuals who have volunteered their time as grant reviewers
    • Enhance stakeholder participation and satisfaction with being a part of the ACS family
    • Accelerate our progress in finding cancer's cause and cures
    • Encourage past grantees to give back to ACS by mentoring our young grantees
    • Allow us to follow our grantees and see our investment at work 

    A phased rollout to additional researchers will begin on August 27 – and we expect the site to be fully launched in early 2019. Check out this short video by Otis Brawley, MD, our chief medical & scientific officer, to learn more about this innovative initiative

    For additional questions, send an email to

  • Stakeholder nominations open to help guide research grant process

    Do you know anyone with a strong personal interest in cancer who would like to participate in our research and training grants peer review process? Maybe you?

    Candidates should have a strong personal interest in cancer research based on a personal connection to the disease, such as being a cancer survivor, having had a family member with cancer, or having acted as a caregiver.

    “Stakeholders” have been an important part of the Society’s grant review process since 1999, providing a unique perspective from the cancer experience to help ensure sound research funding decisions. Many of our most outstanding volunteers have served in this role.

    Being a Stakeholder requires no formal science or oncology training. About 12 to 15 stakeholders will be selected, and they will receive training before being assigned to one or more of the approximately 20 peer review committees in the Society’s Extramural Research Department. They will serve a two-year term beginning in June 2019.

    Stakeholders from various interest areas join clinicians, researchers, and other scientists to review the more than 1,300 applications submitted to the American Cancer Society each year. In addition to stakeholders, each committee includes five to 20 researchers, clinicians, and other experts.

    Stakeholder nominations will remain open now through September 14, 2018. Nominees will be asked to complete a short questionnaire and submit two letters of recommendation as part of the selection process. 

    Interested parties can learn more about the program at, or by emailing

  • Innovative chatbot technology implemented to increase HPV vaccine awareness

    The American Cancer Society is now using the tremendously popular Facebook Messenger to communicate with users in a new way. On July 18, the digital product team, led by Ben Kaplan and Heather Gresch, launched the ACS's first Facebook Messenger chatbot to educate parents on the importance of the HPV vaccine.

    A chatbot is a computer program powered by AI (artificial intelligence), and is used to automate specific tasks by chatting with a user over a conversational interface. The ACS chatbot has been designed to take the user through a guided learning experience to increase awareness and educate parents about the HPV vaccination as cancer prevention for their children. In addition, users are given the opportunity to get quick answers on how to make a donation, find information on various cancer types, chat with a live representative at NCIC, and more.

    This is important for ACS for a few reasons:

    • True Innovation – ACS is the first major healthcare nonprofit among our competitors to launch a chatbot on Facebook Messenger.
    • Digitizing our Mission – A strong collaboration among Cancer Control and the digital team afforded them the ability to lean in and truly start to understand how far digital tools can take the organization.
    • Consumer-First Mindset –  As the organization pushes to be more relevant in today's world, it is imperative to meet consumers where they engage daily. With Facebook being the most popular social network and Facebook Messenger having more than 1.2 billion active users, the digital team knew that Facebook would be the best platform to test on along with giving us the ability to communicate on an ongoing basis with large numbers of people.

    The team plans to review usage and engagement data over the next few weeks to determine if the chatbot's capabilities will be extended in the future for other campaigns. "We envision having a permanent chatbot on Facebook that answers basic cancer questions, while still allowing for real live chat and promotion of NCIC," said Ben.

    The chatbot is available on the American Cancer Society Facebook page. Users can access the bot on their mobile device by visiting the American Cancer Society Facebook page and clicking "Message." (Technically, the chatbot can be accessed through a desktop, but a mobile device provides the best user experience.)

  • Society publishes two new oncology textbooks

    The American Cancer Society recently published two new oncology textbooks. Ted Gansler, our strategic director, Pathology Research, served as lead editor to coordinate input from several ACS staff and volunteer leaders. The two titles are: Principles of Oncology: Prevention to Survivorship, about cancer epidemiology, biology, prevention, screening, and survivorship and Oncology in Practice: Clinical Management, which covers diagnosis and treatment of cancers.

    The textbooks are for sale on our publisher's website at (The text books are not available through the ACS bookstore on or through Society Mart.) 

    More about Principles of Oncology: Prevention to Survivorship 

    This book is an ideal resource for students, researchers, and clinicians seeking a deeper understanding of cancer biology, epidemiology, prevention, screening, and follow-up. You'll see many familiar names among the chapter authors. For instance, the "Screening and Early Detection" chapter is written by 
    Robert A. SmithOtis W. Brawley, and Richard C. Wender; "The Principles and Drivers of Cancer" is authored by Charles Saxe and William C. Phelps; "Descriptive Epidemiology" is written by Rebecca L. SiegelKimberly D. Miller, and Ahmedin Jemal; the "Environmental and Occupational Carcinogens" chapter is by Elizabeth Ward; "Fundamentals of Cancer Epidemiology" is written by Susan M. Gapstur and Eric J. Jacobs; and "Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention" is by Stacey FedewaRebecca L. Siegel, Colleen DoyleMarji L. McCullough, and Alpa V. Patel.

    More about Oncology in Practice: Clinical Management

    This new textbook was designed for a wide range of students and practitioners. It is a comprehensive reference covering the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and a range of related issues that are key to a multidisciplinary approach to cancer and critical to cancer. There are chapters on thoracic, digestive, head and neck, urinary, female and male reproductive, breast, hematologic, skin, endocrine, nervous system and eye, and bone and soft issue cancers, as well as cancers with an unknown primary site. It is written by multidisciplinary teams of medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, and other specialists, reflecting day-to-day decision-making and clinical practice. Input from pathologists, radiologists, and other specialists and generalists is included wherever relevant. 

    These are not the first comprehensive oncology text books produced by ACS. They continue a tradition of 11 past titles dating back to 1963 that have guided and inspired generations of cancer care clinicians and researchers. You can see some of them in the smaller image here.

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