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U.S. Cancer Deaths on the Decline

Number of Americans Being Diagnosed Remains the Same
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Breast Cancers May Have Stabilized

It has been suggested that fewer middle-aged women are developing breast cancer because a smaller number are taking hormone replacement therapy, which has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

But it remains to be seen if the stabilization in breast cancers is a real trend or a random fluctuation, the report's authors say.

And while lung cancers among women have climbed for the last three decades, the rate of increase has slowed in recent years.

Between 1995 and 2003, lung cancer rates increased among women 65 years and older, while they decreased among women between the ages of 45 and 65, and remained stable in women younger than 45. During the same period, lung cancer rates declined among men in all age groups.

While smoking cessation efforts have clearly had an impact on cancer deaths, the battle is far from won, says Ahmedin Jemal, PhD, of the American Cancer Society.

"More than 40 million adults in the United States still smoke," he tells WebMD. "Clearly, we still have a long way to go."

Cancer Among U.S. Hispanics

This year's report included a special section on cancer among Latino/Hispanics living in the United States, based on data derived from 90% of the U.S. Hispanic/Latino population.

"Latinos are among the largest minority group in this country, and it is encouraging that we now have a comprehensive picture of their cancer risk," Howe tells WebMD.

Findings for Latino/Hispanics

Among the major findings about Latino/Hispanics:

  • Latino/Hispanics in the U.S. have a lower incidence of most cancers than non-Hispanic whites. This is partially explained by the fact that smoking rates among Hispanic women are about half that of white women (10% compared with around 20%), and men also tend to smoke less, according to Faruque Ahmed, MD, PhD, acting chief of cancer surveillance at the CDC.

  • Although fewer cancers are diagnosed overall, those that are tend to be more advanced. Latinos are less likely than whites to be diagnosed with more easily treatable, localized cancers of the lung, colon, prostate, breast, and cervix.

  • These differences may be attributed to less cancer screening, lower income, lower education, language difficulties, increased environmental exposures, and limited access to health care.

  • Cancers associated with infections were more common among Latino/Hispanics than among non-Hispanic whites. These include cervical cancer, which is primarily caused by human papilloma virus (HPV) infection; stomach cancer, linked to Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacterial infection; and liver cancer, which has been linked to infection with hepatitis B and C viruses.

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