Study: Cancer death rates drop in U.S.

Cancer death rates continue to decline in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society's (ACS) annual cancer statistics report for 2009. Decreases in death from breast and colorectal cancer make up 60% of the decline among women, while lung, prostate, and colorectal cancer account for nearly 80% of the drop among men.

Cancer death rates dropped 19.2% among men from 1990 to 2005 and 11.4% among women from 1991 to 2005, the study found. Cancer incident rates overall declined 1.8% per year among men from 2001 to 2005 and 0.6% per year from 1998 to 2005 among women. Improvements in both early detection and treatment are credited for the changes.

Prostate (25%), lung and bronchial (15%), and colorectal (10%) cancer are expected to account for half of all cancer diagnoses in men, according to 2009 projections. Lung and bronchial cancers remain the leading cause of death for men, followed by prostate, colon, and rectal cancers.

Prevalence of cancer in men by type
Type of cancer Est. new cases Est. deaths
Prostate 192,280 27,360
Lung/bronchus 116,090 88,900
Colon/rectum 75,590 25,240
Urinary bladder 52,810 10,180
Skin melanoma 39,080 29,640

For women, breast (27%), lung and bronchial (14%), and colorectal (10%) cancer are expected to account for half of cancer cases. Lung and bronchial cancers will be the leading cause of death, followed by breast and colorectal cancers.

Prevalence of cancer in women by type
Type of cancer Est. new cases Est. deaths
Breast 192,370 40,170
Lung/bronchus 103,350 70,490
Colon/rectum 71,380 24,680
Uterine corpus 42,160 7,780
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma 29,990 9,670

The report, Cancer Facts & Figures 2009, noted that African-American men have an 18% higher incidence rate and a 36% higher death rate than Caucasian men. It also noted that lung cancer rates vary greatly among states, reflecting differences in tobacco use.

American Cancer Society CEO John Seffrin, Ph.D., noted that the steady decline in cancer deaths of 1% to 2% represents 650,000 deaths avoided over the past 15 years.

Related Reading

Report: U.S. cancer cases will grow by 45% in 20 years, April 29, 2009

Cancer rates and related deaths drop in U.S., November 26, 2008

Falling breast cancer rates seen only in whites, April 17, 2008

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