The death rate from all cancers combined has continued to decline 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, which comes 10 years after lung cancer deaths in men began to fall, reflects the fact that women took up smoking later than men in the middle of the last century.
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, examined cancer trends between 1992 and 2007.
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 U.S. age 65 years and older is expected to double in size by 2030 compared to 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 write in the online March 31 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Among the main findings:
- Overall cancer incidence rates declined about 1 percent a year and overall death rates fell an average 1.6 percent a year between 2003 and 2007.
- Among men, incidence of liver, kidney, and pancreatic cancer and melanoma increased from 2003-2007. 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 from 2003-2007. Death rates increased for pancreatic and liver cancer. 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. For new cancers, black men had the highest overall incidence rates. White women had the highest incidence rates among women.
This year's report includes, for the first time, data on non-malignant brain tumors diagnosed from 2004 through 2007. Highlights include:
- The incidence of neuroepithelial brain tumors, a common, usually malignant type, fell an average 0.4 percent a year from 1987 through 2007.
- Nonmalignant tumors were about twice as common as malignant tumors among adults aged 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 vs. 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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