U.S. Cancer Deaths Keep Dropping

In the war on cancer, the hope is that many small victories will add up to an eventual cure. New projections from the American Cancer Society may strengthen that hope.

It reports that while the number of new cancer diagnoses in the U.S. remains steady, the number of cancer deaths continues to decline. This year, the U.S. will see nearly 1.7 million new cancer cases and nearly 600,000 cancer deaths, according to projections published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

That means cancer deaths have fallen by 23 percent in the decade before 2012, the latest period for which data are available. The decrease represents about 1.7 million fewer deaths since rates peaked in 1991.

The decrease is largely due to fewer deaths from breast, colon, rectal and prostate cancers. Also, there are fewer lung cancer deaths as a result of fewer people smoking. Even so, breast cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death for women ages 20 to 59, and leukemia is the leading cause of cancer death among men ages 20 to 39. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for older men and women.

Rates of some cancers are increasing, including those often associated with weight gain. For example, incidence and mortality rates for endometrial cancer are up, most likely due to steady rises in obesity.

Another area of concern are gaps between races. For example, black men have the highest rates of new cancer diagnoses and deaths. In fact, black men have higher diagnosis and death rates than non-Hispanic white men for every malignancy except kidney cancer.

The report's authors point out that cancer continues to be a leading cause of death in the U.S., and advancing the fight will require more research and funding. Also, existing tools to fight cancer need to be applied to all segments of the population.

Don't miss this week's Slice of History:  Smoking Tied to Cancer: Dec. 11, 1964

Sourced from: Reuters Health, New U.S. cancer cases holding steady, deaths declning