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Health Services Research & Development

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HSR&D In Progress

February 2018

In this Issue: Improving Cancer Care
» Table of Contents

Improving Cancer Care


Cancer is soon expected to be the leading cause of death in the United States. More than 1.5 million people are diagnosed with cancer and more than 500,000 people die of the disease every year. By 2020, the number of new cancer cases is expected to increase to nearly 2 million a year. Research shows that more than half of cancer deaths could be prevented through healthier life choices, screening, and vaccination (i.e., for the human papilloma virus or HPV). For example, smoking causes approximately 90% of lung cancer deaths in men and nearly 80% among women; smoking also can cause cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, colon, and stomach.1

A 2012 VA study reported that around 40,000 cancer cases are reported to VA's Central Cancer Registry annually, about three percent of all cancers in the United States. The five most frequently diagnosed cancers among Veterans receiving VA healthcare were prostate, lung and bronchial, colorectal, urinary and bladder cancers, and skin melanomas. This list is similar to that for American men as a whole.2

HSR&D researchers work to improve the health and care of Veterans with cancer. For example, a Quality Improvement Toolkit Series was designed as an interactive website to help VA facilities improve performance measurement and quality improvement efforts across several high-priority cancers such as lung, colorectal, and prostate cancers. HSR&D investigators also conduct important research on both the benefits and unintended consequences of cancer screening. An article in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that Veterans who were current smokers attached exaggerated personal benefits to lung cancer screening. HSR&D researchers also produced a systematic review on “The Effects of Shared Decision Making on Cancer Screening.”

For more information, visit HSR&D's cancer research overview page.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Cancer.
  2. VA Office of Research & Development. VA Research on Cancer.


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Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.