The death rate from all cancers has declined in the United States over the last 15 years, according to a new report.
And for the first time in four decades, death rates from lung cancer went down in women during this period, the report says. This drop came 10 years after lung cancer deaths in men began to fall.
“The decrease in cancer incidence and mortality reflects progress in cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment,” wrote the authors of the report, which is published each year by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Cancer Society. The report examined cancer trends between 1992 and 2007.
However, death rates from some cancers, including pancreatic cancer and melanoma , are on the rise, the researchers say.
While the continued decline in cancer death rates is encouraging, more and more people will be diagnosed with cancer as the population ages. The number of people in the United States age 65 years and older is expected to double in size by 2030 compared with 2000.
“Effective management of the cancer burden will require the application of sound cancer control strategies in prevention, detection, treatment, and survivorship, as well as resources to provide good quality of care,” the researchers wrote in the online March 31 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Among the report's main findings:
- Overall cancer incidence rates declined about 1 percent a year and overall death rates fell an average of 1.6 percent a year between 2003 and 2007.
- Among men, incidence of liver, kidney, and pancreatic cancer and melanoma increased from 2003 to 2007. Death rates increased for liver and pancreatic cancer and melanoma.
- Among women, incidence of kidney, thyroid and pancreatic cancer, as well as leukemia and melanoma, increased between 2003 and 2007. Death rates increased for pancreatic and liver cancer during this time period. Death rates for uterine cancer, after falling from 1975 through 1997, increased in the following decade.
- Among children, cancer death rates continued a decline that began in the 1970s; however, the incidence of childhood cancer increased by about 0.6 percent a year from 1992-2007.
- Black men and women had the highest death rates overall, but also the largest declines in death rates from 1998 through 2007. Black men had the highest overall rates of new cancers, while white women had the highest rates of new cancers among women.
This year's report includes, for the first time, data on non-malignant brain tumors diagnosed from 2004 through 2007. The report found:
- The incidence of neuroepithelial brain tumors, a common, usually malignant type, fell an average of 0.4 percent a year from 1987 through 2007.
- Nonmalignant tumors were about twice as common as malignant tumors among adults age 20 and older.
- Brain tumors in children were much rarer than in adults but much more likely to be malignant; 65.2 percent were malignant in children, compared with 33.7 percent in adults.
Pass it on: Overall cancer death rates are down in the United States, but more people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer as the population ages.
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