Report: Cancer deaths continue to decrease, partly due earlier detection

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Cancer mortality rates continued a 20 year drop, with 767,000 cancer deaths averted, according to a report from the American Cancer Society (ACS) published online July 7 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

Cancer Statistics 2010 reports that the overall death rate from cancer in the U.S. in 2007 was 178.4 per 100,000, a relative decrease of 1.3 percent from 2006, when the rate was 180.7 per 100,000, continuing a trend that began in 1991 for men and 1992 for women. In that time, mortality rates have decreased by 21 percent among men and by 12 percent among women, due primarily to declines in smoking, better treatments and earlier cancer detection.

Society epidemiologists predict there will be 1,529,560 new cancer cases (789,620 in men and 739,940 in women) and 569,490 cancer deaths (299,200 in men and 270,290 in women) in the U.S. in 2010.

Other highlights of Cancer Statistics 2010 include:

  • Cancers of the lung, prostate and colorectum in men and cancers of the lung, breast and colorectum in women continue to be the most common fatal cancers. These four cancers account for half of the total cancer deaths among men and women.
  • Among men, cancers of the prostate, lung and colon will account for 52 percent of all newly diagnosed cancers. Prostate cancer alone will account for one in four of all cancer diagnoses in men. About nine in ten of these new cases of prostate cancer are expected to be diagnosed at local or regional stages, for which five-year relative survival approaching 100 percent.
  • The three most commonly diagnosed types of cancer among women in 2010 will be cancers of the breast, lung and colon, accounting for 52 percent of cancer cases in women. Breast cancer alone is expected to account for 28 percent of all new cancer cases among women.
  • Lung cancer surpassed breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer death in women in 1987 and is expected to account for 26 percent of all female cancer deaths in 2010.
  • African-American men have a 14 percent higher overall incidence rate and 34 percent higher overall death rate than white men. African-American women have a 7 percent lower incidence rate, but a 17 percent higher death rate than white women for all cancer sites combined.
  • Among other racial and ethnic groups, cancer incidence and death rates are lower than those in whites and African Americans for all cancer sites combined and for the four most common cancer sites.
  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death among children between ages one to 14 years in the U.S., after accidents. The five-year relative survival rate among children for all cancer sites combined improved from 58 percent for patients diagnosed in 1975 to 1977 to 81 percent for those diagnosed in 1999 to 2005.

"We will build on our progress in the fight against cancer through laws and policies that increase access to cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment services, and with a sustained federal investment in research designed to find breakthroughs in the prevention and treatment of the most deadly forms of cancer,” said John R. Seffrin, PhD, CEO of the ACS and its advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.