Cancer death rates are still declining in the U.S., but some are declining faster than others -- and cancer remains the leading cause of death for Americans younger than 85. In short, we’ve made progress against the disease, but more work needs to be done.
In an annual report released Friday, the American Cancer Society estimated that 1,596,670 new cancer diagnoses and more than 570,000 cancer deaths are expected to occur this year. It also announced that death rates fell by about 22% for men and 14% for women between 1990 and 2007. Since the early 2000’s, the decline has been 1.9% a year in men and 1.5% each year in women.
For men, declines in death rates of lung,prostate and colorectal cancers are driving the overall trend. For women, lower rates of death from breast and colorectal cancer are driving numbers down. The last few decades have seen better early detection—and better treatment—of most of those cancers, the authors say. With lung cancer, it was men’s reduced tobacco use over the past half-century that helped turned the tide.
Lung cancer solidly remains the top killer for men and women, but deaths from lung cancer in women have also finally started to decline, a historical reflection of women picking up, then kicking, smoking habits later than men.