Prior to 2012, cardiovascular disease was the leading cause of death in Virginia, but now cancer is the Commonwealth's leading killer.

To help lawmakers craft state policies for the future, the Joint Commission on Health Care wanted to find out what the projected cancer rates will be over the next few decades.

UVa’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service compiled the data. Delegate and Doctor John O'Bannon describes the bottom line.

"I think their message is that there is a real probability as the population ages, that there will be an epidemic of cancer."

Predicting Virginia's Cancer Rates to 2040

Apr 21, 2015

Cancer is the leading cause of death across Virginia and the nation.  A new study predicts the number of new cancer cases as the population ages.

Virginia’s cancer rates will increase by double digits in each of the next 3 decades.  That’s according to a new report from the Demographics Research Group at the University of Virginia Weldon Cooper Center.  Director Qian Cai  says most cancers occur in people age 55 and older, so she and her team projected the likely number of new cancer cases from information taken from the Virginia Cancer Registry.

A new, three-part documentary begins tonight on public television.  The subject is cancer, and the executive producer is Ken Burns.

“Our film project, The Emperor of All Maladies is about as close to the bone as filmmaking gets for me.  There was never a moment in my awareness as a human being that I didn’t know something was desperately wrong with my mother.  She died when I was 11, almost 12 years old.  “

The program features research scientists and doctors.

Cancer Breakthrough at UVA

Feb 8, 2015
University of Virginia School of Medicine

Scientists at the University of Virginia have made what could be an important breakthrough in treating cancer.  They’ve discovered a substance released by lung cancer cells that enables them to spread – beginning their deadly march to other parts of the body.  Biochemist Marty Mayo says finding that substance, called Activin A, could lead to a simple blood test for certain cancers.

Photo: Matthew Faltz,

There’s more proof that working night shifts can be harmful to your health.  A new study identifies a molecule that affects a tumor suppressor gene when normal sleep cycles are disrupted over a long period of time.