Cancer Death Rates Continue To Fall, Report Finds
The rate of U.S. cancer deaths decreased by an average of 2.1% annually between 2002 and 2004, almost double the decline annually between 1993 and 2002, according to a report released on Monday by several federal agencies and the American Cancer Society, USA Today reports (Davis, USA Today, 10/15).
Each year, researchers from CDC, the National Cancer Institute, the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries and ACS compile the "Report to the Nation" on cancer (Neergaard, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/15).
For the report, researchers examined cancer patient data from national registries and information on cancer deaths from bureaus in different states (Greve, McClatchy/Charlotte Observer, 10/15).
The report attributed much of the decrease in the rate of cancer deaths to a decline in the rate of colorectal cancer deaths, which decreased by almost 5% annually among men and 4.5% annually among women between 2002 and 2004. According to the report, new colorectal cancer diagnoses decreased by 2.5% annually among men and women between 2002 and 2004, although only about half of individuals older than age 50 receive recommended tests for the disease. In addition, the report found that new treatments for colorectal cancer have doubled survival times for patients with advanced forms of the disease between 2002 and 2004.
The report also found that between 2002 and 2004:
- The rate of cancer deaths among men decreased by 2.6% annually, compared with 1.8% among women (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/15);
- The rates of cancer deaths among men for 12 of the 15 most common forms of the disease decreased annually;
- The rates of cancer deaths among women for 10 of the 15 most common forms of the disease decreased annually (McClatchy/Charlotte Observer, 10/15);
- The rate of lung cancer deaths among men decreased by 2% annually, and the rate of deaths from the disease among women remained about the same; and
- The rate of new cancer diagnoses among men and women decreased by 0.5% annually, and the rate of new breast cancer diagnoses decreased by 3.5% annually (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/15).
The report found that American Indians and Alaska Natives in some areas did not experience the same decrease in the rate of cancer deaths as the rest of the population, in part because of higher rates of preventable cancers and cases of advanced forms of the diseases among the two populations (Grady, New York Times, 10/15).
CDC Director Julie Gerberding said that the decrease in the rate of cancer deaths "demonstrates important progress" (McClatchy/Charlotte Observer, 10/15).
Elizabeth Ward, a co-author of the report and cancer surveillance director at ACS, said, "The concern we have is that much of the progress we've attained in reducing death rates comes from tobacco control, screening and access to timely and high-quality treatment, and those positive effects are not being seen in all populations in the U.S." (New York Times, 10/15).
Brenda Edwards, a co-author of the report and associate director of the surveillance research program at NCI, said, "The death rates are the bottom line, and they tell you the benefit of many factors, from treatment to detection to changing lifestyles" (USA Today, 10/15).
An abstract of the report is available online.