Cancer Deaths Continue to Drop
Steepest Decline Seen in Colorectal Cancer
Breast Cancer Deaths
Deaths from breast cancer have dropped an average of 2% a year since
Breast cancer incidence rates also dropped significantly between 2001 and
2004, with a widely reported single-year decrease of nearly 7% between 2002 and
2003 thought to be due to declines in hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
The average drop in incidence was 3.5% per year from 2001 to 2004.
Mammography screening has played a big part in the drop in breast cancer
deaths, but screening rates have begun to decline slightly despite a federal
program making mammograms available to uninsured women, Ward says.
About 75% of women who should get mammograms are being screened, she
“Screening rates are much lower for uninsured women and recent immigrants,”
Ward says. “Certainly this is an area where improvement is needed.”
American Indians and Alaska Natives
A special feature of the report highlighted cancer incidence and death
trends among two medically underserved groups in the United States: American
Indians and Alaska Natives.
Poverty rates are roughly three times higher among these populations than
among non-Hispanic whites, and health coverage rates for adults are roughly
half that of whites.
As a result, these populations were less likely to have highly treatable
malignancies like colorectal and breast cancers detected in the early
Lung and colorectal cancer rates were also significantly higher among
Northern Plains and Alaska Natives than among non-Hispanic whites.
In a written statement, National Cancer Institute Director John E.
Niederhuber, MD, discusses the gap between more medically served and
“We are firmly committed to addressing cancer health disparities so that the
benefits of decades of research can reach all Americans,” he writes. “The fact
that lung and colorectal cancer rates were higher in some American Indian and
Alaska Native populations points to the work we still have to do.”