There was also good news in the area of childhood malignancies. Although incidence increased by half a percent from 2004 to 2008, death rates since 1975 have decreased from 4.9 per 100,000 children to 2.2 per 100,000 in 2008. The five-year survival rate is now 83 percent, up dramatically from 58 percent in the mid-1970s, the report found.
Still, one in four deaths in the United States each year is due to cancer and, in 2012, some 1.6 million new cancers will be diagnosed and almost 600,000 people will die from the disease.
Racial and ethnic disparities remain, with black men and women more likely to get cancer and more likely to die from it.
And there have been disconcerting increases in cancers of the pancreas, liver, thyroid and kidney as well as melanoma, esophageal adenocarcinoma and some oropharyngeal cancers, the last related to infection with human papillomavirus (HPV).
"These are worrisome trends which require further study and intervention," said Seiden.
Experts don't really know the reasons behind these increases but some, such as cancers of the kidney and pancreas, may be related to the growing obesity epidemic, said Jemal.
The rise in liver tumors could well be due to hepatitis C infections or intravenous drug use in the 1960s and '70s, he added.
Much additional progress is easily within reach, said Seiden.
"There's still a lot of low-lying fruit. Still, only half our population is getting screened by colonoscopy, 20 percent smoke cigarettes. Mammography, Pap screening, all of those have room for an upside as do vaccinations for things like HPV and hepatitis," he said. "There is still plenty of incremental improvement in earlier diagnosis, in cancer prevention and, of course, in extending lives through better cancer therapies."
The American Cancer Society has more
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