Cancer death rates continue to slide in U.S.

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Rates of death in the U.S. from all cancers for men and women continued to decline between 2004 and 2008, according to the “Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer,” published online in Cancer on March 28.

The report also found the overall rate of new cancer diagnoses for men and women combined decreased an average of less than 1 percent per year from 1998 through 2006, with rates leveling off from 2006 through 2008.

The overall rate of new cancer diagnoses among men decreased by an average of 0.6 percent per year between 2004 and 2008. Overall cancer incidence rates among women declined 0.5 percent per year from 1998 through 2006 with rates leveling off from 2006 through 2008.

In addition to drops in overall cancer mortality and incidence, this year's report documented the second consecutive year of decreasing lung cancer mortality rates among women. Lung cancer death rates in men have been decreasing since the early 1990s.

Colorectal cancer incidence rates also decreased among men and women from 1999 through 2008. Breast cancer incidence rates among women declined from 1999 through 2004 and plateaued from 2004 through 2008. Incidence rates of some cancers, including pancreas, kidney, thyroid, liver and melanoma, increased from 1999 through 2008.

Among children ages 19 years or younger, the report showed that cancer incidence rates increased 0.6 percent per year from 2004 through 2008, while death rates decreased 1.3 percent per year during the same period.

The authors also highlighted cancers associated with excess weight and lack of sufficient physical activity. Esophageal adenocarcinoma, cancers of the colon and rectum, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, endometrial cancer and breast cancer among postmenopausal women are associated with being overweight or obese. Several of these cancers also are associated with not being sufficiently physically active.

The report is co-authored by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society.