FRIDAY, June 17 (HealthDay News) -- There has been a steady drop
in cancer deaths in the United States in the past two decades, two
American Cancer Society reports find.
This translates into a dramatic decline between 1990 and 2007 --
nearly 900,000 fewer people felled by the disease, the society
"It's getting better for the majority of cancers," said Dr. Iuliana Shapira, director of cancer genetics at Monter Cancer Center at the North Shore-LIJ Health System in New Hyde Park, NY.
Early detection and better treatments are having an impact on
cancer death rates, said Shapira, who was not involved in the
report. "More people are living with cancer... We are doing better
than we did," she said.
Ahmedin Jemal, strategic director of cancer surveillance at the
American Cancer Society, added that a decline in the rate of
smoking among Americans is also responsible for the drop in deaths
Since 1990, he pointed out, cancer deaths have plummeted by
about 22 percent in men and 14 percent in women.
Most recently, the rate of cancer incidence in men has hit a
plateau after shrinking 1.9 percent each year from 2001 to 2005.
For in women, cancer rates have been dropping steadily, 0.6 percent
each year since 1998.
Since 1990, deaths from cancer have declined in almost all
racial/ethnic groups and since 1998 in both men and women. The only
exception is among American Indian/Alaska Native women, where the
rate hasn't changed, according to the reports.
Among black and Hispanic men, decreases in cancer deaths during
this period were the largest during this time, dropping 2.6 percent
and 2.5 percent, respectively.
According to the latest data, lung cancer death rates in women
have dropped significantly, after increasing continuously since the
But even with these striking downturns, not all segments of the
population are seeing equal benefits, partly because of ongoing
disparities in cancer care, Jemal said.
Those with the least education, which is a marker for
socioeconomic status, are more than twice as likely to die from
cancer than the most educated. If these disparities did not exist,
more than 60,000 people aged 20 to 64 would not have died from
cancer in 2007 alone, the researchers said.
In 2007, cancer deaths among the least educated were 2.6 times
higher than those among the most educated, according to the report.
The disparity was largest for lung cancer, where the deaths were
five times higher among the least educated than among the
These differences reflect the differences in smoking rates -- 31
percent among men with 12 or fewer years of education smoke,
compared with 12 percent of college graduates and 5 percent of men
with graduate degrees, the American Cancer Society noted.
These data are included in two new reports from the Society:
Cancer Statistics 2011 and
Cancer Facts & Figures 2011.
Other highlights of the reports:
This year, the American Cancer Society expects 1,596,670 new
cancer cases and 571,950 deaths from the disease in the United
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