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Cancer Rates Declining

Today we have more good news about cancer: a recent report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (6/01) shows that rates for cancer cases and deaths in general DECREASED in the 1990s.  The overall decrease was 1.1% per year from 1992 to 1998...and was led by reduced rates for prostate cancer, lung cancer and colon cancer. 

[These data came from combined government and private studies.  The study compares the rate of cancer incidence and death in the United States from 1992 to 1998 with similar statistics from earlier years. It is the result of combined data and analysis from the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Cancer Society and the NAACCR.]

This report showed that four different cancers--breast, prostate, lung and colorectal--accounted for more than half of all cancer deaths and all new cancers detected in 1998.

[While we hear a lot more about prostate cancer these days, prostate cancer rates have actually fallen dramatically, by about a third over six years.  Rates for lung and colorectal cancers decreased slightly.]

The good news is that cancer death rates are also declining for eight of the top 10 cancers.  [The exceptions were the death rates for lung cancer in women and for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.]  The bad news is that while cancer deaths declined across our overall population, this decrease was mostly in men.  In general, women experienced cancer incidence increases, particularly in  breast and lung cancers.

In fact, breast cancer rates jumped by about 40 percent since 1973.  [The average annual increase was 1.2 percent per year between 1992 to 1998.] This may be actually be a good thing: it shows better use of screening which should result in decreased breast cancer deaths.  The study data confirmed this: breast cancer death rates declined by 2.4 percent per year from 1992 to 1998.

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Created: 8/20/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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