News | April 27, 2010

Medical Imaging Innovation Improves Cancer Survival

April 28, 2010 - Cancer imaging innovation accounted for 40 percent of the reduction in U.S. cancer deaths between 1996 and 2006, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) working paper.

This results from the study on imaging innovation makes it likely the largest single contributor to decreased cancer mortality during 1996 and 2006. Frank R. Lichtenberg, a professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business, led the study. Lichtenberg and his team found "imaging innovation, drug innovation, and declining incidence jointly explain about three-fourths of the decline in cancer mortality."

The results also showed only seven percent of the mortality decline was due to the decline in lagged incidence. About one-fourth of the mortality decline stemmed from drug innovation, and 40 percent of the decline is attributable to lagged imaging innovation.

The researchers concluded, "Life expectancy at birth may have been increased by almost three months between 1996 and 2006 by the combined effects of cancer imaging and cancer drug innovation." In addition, cancer imaging innovation alone reduced the U.S. cancer mortality rate by 10.2 deaths per 100,000 population during this time period. Notably, an estimated nine percent of the decline in the U.S. mortality rate from all causes of death is attributable to advanced imaging innovation.

Reference: Lichtenberg, Frank R., "Has Medical Innovation Reduced Cancer Mortality?" April 2010. NBER Working Paper Series, Vol. w15880, pp. -, 2010. Available at SSRN:

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