Cancer Death Rates Continue to Decrease in U.S.
A decline in the rate of cancer deaths in the United States continued in 2007, the latest year for which data is available. The new statistics were released by the American Cancer Society.
The decline in annual cancer deaths started in 1991 for men and 1992 for women. The report states that, since that time, death rates have fallen 21 percent for men and 12 percent for women. The cancer society said these trends mean that 767,000 deaths due to premature cancer were averted in the last 15 years.
The overall 2007 death rate for cancer was 178.4 per 100,000 people, down from 180.7 per 100,000 in 2006 – a 1.3 percent drop. Experts say the reasons for the continued decline in cancer death rates include: improved cancer treatments, public health campaigns and public policy regarding smoking, greater awareness of the importance of cancer screenings as people age, as well as greater utilization of these screenings.
Death rates for all types of cancer, taken as a whole, fell by 2 percent each year from 2001 to 2006 for men, and by 1.5 percent from 2002 to 2006 for women. Still, the cancer society estimates that there will be more than 1.5 million new diagnoses of cancer in the U.S. in 2010 (about 790,000 in men and 740,000 in women), as well as about 570,000 cancer-caused deaths (about 300,000 in men and 270,000 in women).
The biggest cancer killer for men and women is lung cancer. The second-most-common killer is prostate cancer in men, and breast cancer in women. The third-most-common killer is cancer of the colon in both men and women. These types of cancer account for half of all cancer deaths among men and women, according to the report.
In terms of cancer in children, it is still the second-leading cause of death in those aged one to 14, behind only accidents. The silver lining is that the five-year survival rate for children with any type of cancer improved from 58 percent in 1977 to 81 percent in 2005.
Although cancer death rates are dropping, the cancer society made a conservative estimation that 10,000 people die annually in the U.S. because they fail to get screened for colon and breast cancer. As the U.S. population continues to have a higher percentage of baby boomers and seniors per capita, health- and cancer-related vigilance will play a key role in deciding whether or not the cancer death rates continue to decline.