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Cancer Surpasses Heart Disease as Leading Cause of Death in Calif.

Cancer now is the leading cause of death in 22 states, including California, according to a new study, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (Stobbe, AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/7).

Details of Study

The study -- by researchers from the American Cancer Society -- was published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

For the study, researchers examined mortality data from 1930 to 2012 from the National Center for Health Statistics. The researchers also reviewed data from:

  • CDC's National Program of Cancer Registries; and
  • The National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program (Siegel et al., CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, January 2016).

National Findings

According to the study, death rates for cancer and heart disease both have been declining for about 25 years. However, the mortality rate for heart disease has fallen at a faster rate, the AP/Bee reports.

The heart disease death rate has fallen by 46% since 1991, while the cancer death rate has fallen by 23%. The study attributed the falling cancer death rate to:

  • Advances in cancer detection, treatment and prevention; and
  • Declining smoking rates.

Still, cancer became the leading cause of death in 22 states (AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/7).

California Findings

Between 2008 and 2012, the cancer incidence rate among California men was 485.6 individuals per 100,000. In comparison, the incidence rate was 394.8 per 100,000 among women.

Meanwhile, the cancer death rate during that time period was:

  • 183.4 individuals per 100,000 among men; and
  • 135.3 individuals per 100,000 among women.

Lung and bronchus cancer had the highest death rate among men, at 43.7 per 100,000. Breast cancer was the leading cause of cancer-related death among women, at 122.1 per 100,000.

Meanwhile, the study projected that there will be 173,200 new cancer cases in California in 2016, the highest number of expected cases of any state.

According to the study, the most likely new cases of cancer in California this year will be:

  • Female breast cancer, with 26,730 new cases; and
  • Lung and bronchus cancer, with 18,140 new cases (CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, January 2016).
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