-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
THURSDAY, Jan. 17 (HealthDay News) -- The overall death rate for
cancer in the United States has dropped by at least one-fifth over
the past two decades, according to new statistics from the American
This steady decline translates to 1.2 million lives spared
between 1991 and 2009.
"In 2009, Americans had a 20 percent lower risk of death from cancer than they did in 1991, a milestone that shows we truly are creating more birthdays," John Seffrin, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society, said in a news release.
Death rates continue to fall for colon, breast and prostate
cancers thanks to improvements in the early detection and treatment
of these forms of cancer, the new report revealed. Lung cancer --
still the leading cancer killer -- is also on the decline, since
the number of smokers is also dropping.
But the cancer society noted that more progress could be made if
the latest advancements in cancer prevention and treatment were
extended to underserved populations.
"Not all demographic groups have benefited equally from these gains, particularly those diagnosed with colorectal or breast cancer, where earlier detection and better treatments are credited for the improving trends," Seffrin said. "We can and must close this gap so that people are not punished for having the misfortune of being born poor and disadvantaged."
Between 1991 and 2009, overall cancer death rates fell by 24
percent in men and 16 percent in women, according to the society's
annual Cancer Statistics report. Cancer death rates in the United
States peaked in 1991 at about 215 per 100,000 people. By 2009,
however, death rates had fallen to about 173 per 100,000, the
For people with colon cancer, women with breast cancer and men
with lung cancer, death rates fell by more than 30 percent.
Meanwhile, prostate cancer deaths fell by more than 40 percent
during this time frame.
A report containing similar statistics was released Jan. 7, on
behalf of the cancer society, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the North
American Association of Central Cancer Registries.
That analysis found that the rate of cancer deaths among men
dropped by 1.8 percent per year between 2001 and 2009, and by 1.5
percent per year for women.
"Our efforts in cancer prevention and control are working," Jane Henley, an epidemiologist in the division of cancer prevention and control at the CDC, told HealthDayat the time.
Despite recent progress, however, the fight against cancer
continues. The American Cancer Society projected that nearly 1.7
million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States
in 2013. The group also estimated that nearly 600,000 people would
die from the disease this year.
For men, prostate, lung and colorectal cancers will account for
half of all new diagnoses.
Breast, lung and colon cancer will account for about half of all
new cancer diagnoses among women in 2013. Breast cancer will be the
most prevalent, accounting for 29 percent of all new cases.
Although most forms of cancer are on the decline, the American
Cancer Society report showed that incidence rates are actually
increasing for melanoma (a serious form of skin cancer), as well as
cancers of the liver, thyroid and pancreas. Uterine cancer death
rates also are increasing among women.
For men, lung, prostate, and colorectal cancer will remain the
most deadly forms of the disease. For women, lung, breast and
colorectal cancers will be the most common cause of cancer death.
Among the most deadly, lung cancer is expected to account for 26
percent of all female and 28 percent of all male cancer deaths.
Henley noted the prevalence of cancer and cancer-related deaths
could be further reduced if more people would quit smoking, lose
weight, eat healthy, exercise and drink fewer alcoholic
She added that cases of cervical cancer and cancers of the mouth
could be prevented if the percentage of young girls and boys fully
vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV) increased from
the current 32 percent to 80 percent by 2020.
The cancer society report was based on data from the NCI and
CDC, as well as mortality data from the National Center for Health
Statistics. The research was compiled in two separate reports that
were published in
CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides
more data and statistics on
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