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Cancer Death Rate Dropping

  • Published: 2010-07-07 (Revised/Updated 2016-11-05) : American Cancer Society.
  • Synopsis: Continued drop in overall cancer mortality rates over last 20 years.

Main Document

Cancer deaths continue to drop - Continued drop in overall cancer mortality rates over last 20 years has averted more than 767,000 cancer deaths according to a new report from the American Cancer Society.

The American Cancer Society's annual Cancer Statistics article reports that the overall death rate from cancer in the United States in 2007 was 178.4 per 100,000, a relative decrease of 1.3 percent from 2006, when the rate was 180.7 per 100,000, continuing a trend that began in 1991 for men and 1992 for women. In that time, mortality rates have decreased by 21 percent among men and by 12 percent among women, due primarily to declines in smoking, better treatments, and earlier detection of cancer.

The figures come from Cancer Statistics 2010, published early online in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians . The report and its consumer version, Cancer Facts & Figures 2010, include the estimated numbers of new cancer cases and deaths for 2010. Society epidemiologists predict there will be 1,529,560 new cancer cases (789,620 in men and 739,940 in women) and 569,490 cancer deaths (299,200 in men and 270,290 in women) in the United States in 2010.

Other highlights of Cancer Statistics 2010 include:

"This report is yet more proof we are creating a world with more birthdays," said John R. Seffrin, Ph.D., chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society and its advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). "We will build on our progress in the fight against cancer through laws and policies that increase access to cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment services, and with a sustained federal investment in research designed to find breakthroughs in the prevention and treatment of the most deadly forms of cancer."

Each year, Cancer Facts & Figures features a Special Section highlighting a particular topic related to cancer. The Special Section of Cancer Facts & Figures 2010 is "Prostate Cancer." It is estimated that about 1 in 6 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime and 1 in 36 will die from the disease. Despite the important burden of prostate cancer cases and deaths, and extensive research on its causes, prevention, early detection, and treatment, many uncertainties remain. The purpose of this year's Special Section is to provide information to clinicians, men who are concerned about their risk of prostate cancer, who are making decisions about prostate cancer screening or treatment, or who are undergoing treatment or follow-up, as well as to anyone interested in learning more about prostate cancer.

The annual Cancer Statistics report and its companion consumer publication, Cancer Facts & Figures, have become critical tools for scientists, public health experts, and policymakers in assessing the current burden of cancer. These estimates are some of the most widely quoted cancer statistics in the world. The Society's leading team of epidemiologic researchers, in collaboration with scientists from the National Center for Health Statistics, compiles and analyzes incidence and mortality data to estimate the number of new cancer cases and deaths for the current year nationwide and in individual states.

The expected numbers of new cancer cases and cancer deaths should be interpreted with caution because these estimates are based on statistical models and may vary considerably from year to year. Not all changes in cancer trends can be captured by modeling techniques and sometimes the model may be too sensitive to recent trends, resulting in over- or under-estimates. For these reasons, the estimates should not be compared from year-to-year to determine trends; age-standardized cancer incidence and death rates are the best way to monitor changes in cancer occurrence and death. Despite these limitations, the American Cancer Society's estimates of the number of new cancer cases and deaths in the current year provide reasonably accurate estimates of the burden of new cancer cases and deaths in the United States. Such estimates will assist in continuing efforts to reduce the public health burden of cancer.

The full report can be viewed at caonline.amcancersoc.org/papbyrecent.dtl

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