TROY — The cancer rate in the United States has declined since the early 1990s, but more emphasis is needed on prevention, Dr. Otis W. Brawley, an American Cancer Society executive, said during the 18th Bill and Ruth McGraw Cancer Awareness Symposium, Oct. 16, in Troy.
“We don’t stress prevention enough,” Brawley said, urging people to avoid carcinogens, radiation when possible and tobacco. He also encouraged them to engage in diet and weight management and wise cancer screening.
Brawley is the executive vice president of the American Cancer Society and its chief medical and scientific officer, as well as author of a book on the risks of over-diagnosis and treatment.
Brawley said the good news is the cancer rate declined 26 percent between 1991 and 2015 in the United States.
“Much of the decline is because people stopped smoking, and we actually started controlling pollution,” he said, adding other factors included improved treatments, increased awareness and effective cancer screenings.
Brawley also encouraged people to be informed consumers.
“Actually talk to your doctor. You are going to get better service,” he said.
The annual symposium is sponsored by the UVMC Foundation and the Upper Valley Medical Center Cancer Care Center. It is named in memory of Bill and Ruth McGraw, who between them had cancer five times, though neither died from the disease. The program is made possible by a grant from the McGraw Family Fund of the Troy Foundation and a UVMC Foundation grant.
Tom Parker, UVMC president, said the symposium plays an important role in cancer education.
“We are grateful to their family and their family’s legacy,” he said.