U.S. Cancer Death Rates Continue to Fall:
WEDNESDAY, March 28 (HealthDay News) -- Deaths from cancer in
the United States continue to decline, health officials report.
However, deaths from some types of cancers are on the increase
and racial disparities remain in cancer deaths and diagnosis,
according to the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
"This annual report shows that a lot of the positive momentum we have seen in cancer control has continued," said report co-author Dr. Marcus Plescia, director of CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. "We are still seeing decreases in the incidence in death rates for many cancers and particularly for many of the most common cancers."
The focus of this report was obesity's impact on cancer. "That's
important, because we don't think the public is aware of that,"
For six cancers, there is good evidence of a relationship
between obesity and cancer: esophageal, kidney, pancreatic,
endometrial, colorectal and breast cancer, he noted.
In addition to the CDC, researchers from the North American
Association of Central Cancer Registries, the U.S. National Cancer
Institute and the American Cancer Society collaborated on the
report, which was published online March 28 and will appear in the
May print issue of the journal
According to the report, the rate of new cancer diagnoses among
men dropped an average of 0.6 percent per year between 2004 and
For women, the rate of cancer dropped 0.5 percent per year from
1998 to 2006, but has leveled off since 2006, the researchers
Most of the declines in cancer have been in lung, breast, colon
and prostate cancer.
However, cancers of the esophagus, kidney, pancreas, liver and
thyroid have been increasing, as well as endometrial cancer, the
The increase in these cancers appears largely due to the
increase in obesity, Plescia said. Lack of physical activity is
also associated with these cancers, he noted.
In addition, melanoma rates are also increasing. The rise in
incidence of this skin cancer appears due to continued sun exposure
and the use of tanning beds, Plescia said.
The main reasons for the drop in lung cancer rates is mostly due
to fewer people smoking, Plescia said.
For the second year in a row, deaths from lung cancer have
dropped among women. Among men, the rate had continued to decline
since the early 1990s, according to the report.
For other cancers such as colon, breast and prostate, the
decreases in deaths is due to screening and better treatments, he
However, the rates for breast cancer have leveled off. "I am a
little concerned about that, because we ought not to see this
leveling off, because we can still be driving these rates down with
more women getting screened," Plescia said.
Right now, about 70 percent of women are being screened, but
Plescia said he would like to see that increase to at least 85
percent of women.
The screening rates for colon cancer are also still far too low,
Cancer rates have increased among children -- 0.6 percent a year
from 2004 to 2008. However, deaths rates from cancer among children
dropped 1.3 percent a year in the same period, the researchers
Despite the improvements in many cancer rates, racial
disparities continue to exist, the researchers found.
From 2004 to 2008, there were more cancers seen among black men
and white women.
Deaths from cancer were highest among black men and black women.
However, these groups also showed the biggest drops, compared to
Asians and Hispanics, the researchers noted.
These differences may be due to differences in risk factors and
access to screening and treatment, they suggest.
In addition, "there are studies that show if you are black,
Hispanic or American Indian you're likely not to get as good care,"
Ahmedin Jemal, vice president of surveillance research at the
American Cancer Society, commented that "there is good news, but
there are also some worrisome trends because some cancers are
increasing, mostly those that are associated with obesity."
A combination of fewer smokers and improvements in cancer
screening and treatment has been driving the decline in cancer
rates and deaths for the most common cancers, he said.
But, to get the rates down for the cancers that are increasing,
more money for research is needed, Jemal said.
People who want to lower their cancer risk should not smoke and
maintain a healthy body weight through diet and being physically
active, he added.
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