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Cancer Deaths in Men Decline for First Time

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Although white women develop breast cancer more frequently than women of other racial or ethnic groups, black women are still most likely to die of the disease. For women overall, the number who die of cancer continues to rise slightly, primarily due to the consistent rise in deaths among women due to lung cancer. Breast and colorectal cancer deaths among women are dropping.

Why the disparity between men and women? "The reason it's happening in men first [the drop in death], we can speculate, is that men have shown the improvement in lung cancer first. Men started smoking first, men started quitting first. The downturns in lung cancer death rates, as well as incidence rates, occurred in men first. We're hoping to see the same thing in women," Schellenbach says.

She has one warning, though, in light of the current downswing in men being attributed to the decrease in lung cancer deaths: "The current upturn in teen-age smoking would alarm us to think that this trend might reverse itself. ... It's basically, bottom line, a terrific story, but it always contains the warning: If we don't do something about teen-age smoking today, the good trends could easily be reversed."

Vital Information:

  • After 70 years of increases, the number of overall deaths from cancer among men has declined, according to statistics from the American Cancer Society.
  • For women, the number of cancer deaths continues to rise, and black women and black men are more likely to die from cancer than other racial groups.
  • An important reason for the decline in deaths is a downturn in lung cancer, but this trend could easily be reversed, since smoking among teen-agers continues to rise.
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