But report notes rate of decrease slowed from 2004 to 2005, with 5,424 more deaths
WEDNESDAY, Feb. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Good news continues to come forth from the cancer front: U.S. death rates from the disease have declined by 18.4 percent among men and by 10.5 percent among women since mortality rates first started going down in the early 1990s.
In 2008, an estimated 1,437,180 new cancers will be diagnosed, and 565,650 people will die of the disease, according to a report released Wednesday from the American Cancer Society (ACS). Death rates were at their highest for men in 1990, and for women in 1991.
Although the rate of cancer deaths decreased from 2004 to 2005, there was an increase in number of actual deaths (5,424) in 2005 compared to 2004, the report showed.
"We do not know why the declines in death rate from 2004 to 2005 slowed, compared to the previous two years," said Ahmedin Jemal, strategic director for cancer surveillance at the ACS. "But we can say that this occurred for almost all of the major cancer sites for men and women, which include colon and rectum in both men and women, breast cancer in women, and prostate cancer in men."
"Death rates from cancer continue to decrease because of prevention, early detection and treatment," Jemal added. "These have been decreasing from the early '90s and, really, because of this decrease, over half a million deaths from cancer have been avoided."
Jemal is first author of Cancer Statistics 2008, which is published in the March/April issue of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. The report has been an annual fixture since 1952.
"This is both good news and bad news," said Dr. Louis Weiner, director of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. "The good news is that cancer rates continue to decline, and that the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans have been saved over past 15 or 16 years as a result of this improvement in cancer death rates."
"The bad news is that more than a half a million Americans can be anticipated to die of cancer this year," Weiner continued. "That's equivalent to nearly the entire population of Washington, D.C., and losing more than the entire population of New Orleans in 2003. Viewed from that perspective, we have a long way to go."
According to Jemal, "smoking is a big part [of the decline.] Smoking rates have been decreasing for the last 30 to 40 years, when the Surgeon General came out with his report."
Screening for colorectal, breast and cervical cancer have also contributed to the decrease, he added.
Today, about one-quarter of deaths in the United States today are due to cancer, killing more people under 85 than heart disease.
Some specifics from this year's report:
This year's report also includes a special section that discusses the impact of health insurance status on cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and outcomes. Earlier this week, researchers from the American Cancer Society reported that people who either have no health insurance or rely on Medicaid are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced cancers.
Visit the American Cancer Society for more on this report and on different types of cancer.
SOURCES: Ahmedin Jemal, DVM, Ph.D., strategic director, cancer surveillance, American Cancer Society, Atlanta; Louis Weiner, M.D., director, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.; Cancer Statistics 2008
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