Report: Cancer Death Rates Continue to Decline (dateline December 12, 2005)
The "Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2002" finds that deaths from most types of cancer continue to decline in the United States, possibly due to better preventive strategies, increased early detection, and treatment advances. The report found that cancer death rates from all types of cancers combined dropped 1.1% each year from 1993 to 2002. New cases of cancer held steady for the most part during this time. However, the report also found disparities in cancer treatment due to geography, race, economics, and age.
Each year, the American Cancer Society (ACS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR) collaborate to research and publish information on cancer rates and trends in the United States.
"These numbers reflect a trend in reduction of cancer mortality that has now persisted for nine years," said NCI Director Andrew C. von Eschenbach, MD, in an NCI news release to announce the report's findings. "This can only be considered good news for the millions of cancer survivors who have benefited from recent research and treatment advances and emphasizes the expectation that we will achieve a time when no one will suffer or die from cancer."
Cancer death rates declined from 1993 to 2002 by an average of 1.5% a year for men and 0.8% a year for women. Death rates decreased for 12 of the top 15 cancers in men, and 9 of the top 15 cancers in women.
Source: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 97, No. 19, 1407-1427, October 5, 2005
On the whole, the incidence of cancer remained steady during this time among men and women. However, cancer rates for women increased by about 0.3% each year. This was mainly due to an increase in 7 types of cancer: breast, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, melanoma, leukemia, and thyroid, bladder and kidney cancers.
"Day by day we are winning the war against cancer as more people than ever before are being screened and are receiving treatments necessary for them to lead healthy and productive lives," said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Julie Gerberding, MD, in an NCI news release. "However, there are gaps and missed opportunities so we must continue to pull out all the stops to ensure proper screening and access to treatment regardless of one's age, race, or geographic location."
Specifically, the study found that breast cancer incidence rates increased among Asian/Pacific Islander women, decreased among American Indian/Alaska Native women, and were stable among other women. The rate of colon and rectum cancer decreased for white women only.
In addition, researchers found large disparities in cancer incidence and deaths among black males. 25% of black males have higher cancer incidence rates and 43% have higher mortality rates, when compared to white men, for all cancers combined. To address these disparities, the researchers suggest better access to preventive screening, early detection, and treatment.