Cyclist and testicular cancer survivor Lance Armstrong joined forces with four former U.S. surgeons general on Wednesday to urge Americans to do more to prevent cancer and get recommended screening tests.
Armstrong, a seven-time winner of the Tour de France, said the United States needs to make more progress against the various types of cancer.
“As a survivor, I think I can say this - we have taken our eye off the ball,” Armstrong told a news conference along with former surgeons general Richard Carmona, David Satcher, Joycelyn Elders and Antonia Novello.
Cancer is the No. 2 cause of death in the United States, and is expected to kill about 566,000 this year. Only heart disease kills more.
At Armstrong’s request, the four doctors developed a national “call to action” against cancer that emphasizes prevention efforts such as not smoking, eating more fruit and vegetables, getting less fat in the diet, getting more exercise, using sunscreen and avoiding indoor tanning beds.
It also encourages people to get recommended cancer screening tests such as mammograms for breast cancer to detect tumors early when they respond best to treatment. And it emphasized the need to provide better care for the roughly 12 million cancer survivors in the United States.
“The war on cancer begins with prevention,” Carmona said. “Today, we have a better understanding about how cancer works and have developed tools for better screening, diagnosis and treatment. Half of all new cancer cases could be prevented or detected earlier when they are most treatable.”
Their plan is on the Internet at http://www.NCTAcancer.org.
The cancer death rate for men has fallen by 18.4 percent since peaking in 1990 and for women has fallen by 10.5 percent since peaking in 1991, the American Cancer Society said.
The declines have been driven by improved treatment and screening methods as well as progress toward prevention such as declining smoking rates, the organization said.
The post of surgeon general, the nation’s top doctor, has been unfilled since Carmona finished his term in 2006.
By Will Dunham