Cancer Incidence, Death Rates Continue to Drop:
WEDNESDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Small but continued drops
in cancer incidence and deaths in the United States in recent years
are charted in a new report.
Between 2004 and 2008, death rates for cancer went down by 1.8
percent a year in men and 1.6 percent a year in women, the American
Cancer Society (ACS) reported Wednesday.
And from 1990 through 2008, death rates plunged almost 23
percent for men and just over 15 percent for women.
"Cancer death rates in the U.S. have continued to decrease since the early 1990s," said Dr. Ahmedin Jemal, senior author of the new report, published online Jan. 4 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. "As a result of this, about a million cancer deaths were averted."
The decreases, said Jemal, who is vice president for
surveillance research at the ACS, "largely reflect improvements in
prevention, early detection and treatment."
The annual report is based on the most recent data available
from the National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.
Death rates dropped most dramatically among black men (2.4
percent per year) and Hispanic men (2.3 percent annually).
"It's an encouraging note that the decrease in cancer deaths was a little larger as a percentage in the African-American population," said Dr. Michael V. Seiden, president and CEO of Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. "This is wonderful to see because, as a group, they do much worse than whites. That's a gap we need to close."
The report also noted continued advances were made against the
four major cancer killers -- lung, colorectum, breast and prostate.
Declines in lung cancer deaths accounted for almost 40 percent of
the total decline in men, and longer lives among breast cancer
survivors resulted in 34 percent of the total drop in women.
Meanwhile, cancer incidence rates dipped 0.6 percent for men,
although they remained unchanged for women.
There was also good news in the area of childhood malignancies.
Although incidence increased by half a percent from 2004 to 2008,
death rates since 1975 have decreased from 4.9 per 100,000 children
to 2.2 per 100,000 in 2008. The five-year survival rate is now 83
percent, up dramatically from 58 percent in the mid-1970s, the
Still, one in four deaths in the United States each year is due
to cancer and, in 2012, some 1.6 million new cancers will be
diagnosed and almost 600,000 people will die from the disease.
Racial and ethnic disparities remain, with black men and women
more likely to get cancer and more likely to die from it.
And there have been disconcerting increases in cancers of the
pancreas, liver, thyroid and kidney as well as melanoma, esophageal
adenocarcinoma and some oropharyngeal cancers, the last related to
infection with human papillomavirus (HPV).
"These are worrisome trends which require further study and intervention," said Seiden.
Experts don't really know the reasons behind these increases but
some, such as cancers of the kidney and pancreas, may be related to
the growing obesity epidemic, said Jemal.
The rise in liver tumors could well be due to hepatitis C
infections or intravenous drug use in the 1960s and '70s, he
Much additional progress is easily within reach, said
"There's still a lot of low-lying fruit. Still, only half our population is getting screened by colonoscopy, 20 percent smoke cigarettes. Mammography, Pap screening, all of those have room for an upside as do vaccinations for things like HPV and hepatitis," he said. "There is still plenty of incremental improvement in earlier diagnosis, in cancer prevention and, of course, in extending lives through better cancer therapies."
Society has more on cancer.
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