Overall Cancer Incidence, Death Rates Decline
Incidence and mortality rates for most cancers dropped steadily in the United States between 1992 and 1998, according to a report published in today's Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Overall cancer incidence decreased by an average of 1.1% annually between 1992 and 1998, and death rates dropped an average of 1.4% per year between 1994 and 1998. The figures are part of an annual survey compiled by the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, the CDC and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (Cimons, Los Angeles Times, 6/6). The overall drop marks a "stunning reversal of decades of escalating rates," the Baltimore Sun reports. Cancer death rates rose until 1991, when they leveled off and remained stable until 1994. Death rates have been declining each year since. Death rates for eight of the top 10 cancers now are all level or declining. However, death rates for female lung cancer and for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma increased, the report says (Baltimore Sun, 6/6). Officials said that the "steady downward trends" are related to Americans' "improved vigilance," including better diets, increased exercise rates and decreased smoking rates. Early screenings and treatment advances also have contributed to the decline, the Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 6/6). Michael Thun, head of epidemiology for the American Cancer Society, said, "In terms of the big picture, we are continuing to make progress, but we still have a long way to go" (Friend, USA Today, 6/6).