Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Cancer Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Cancer Death Rates Are Dropping in U.S.

Early Detection and Better Treatment Are Factors in Decline in Cancer Deaths
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

cancer_deaths_decline_2.jpg

July 8, 2010 -- Death rates for cancer are continuing a slow but steady decline in the U.S., due mainly to improved efforts at early detection, better treatments, and smoking cessation, the American Cancer Society (ACS) says in a new report.

Death rates for all cancers combined decreased 2% per year from 2001 to 2006 in males and 1.5% annually from 2002 to 2006 in females, the ACS says.

The report says lung, prostate, and colorectal cancers in men and lung, breast, and colorectal cancers in women continue to be the most common fatal cancers, accounting for about half of the total cancer deaths among men and women.

The ACS estimates that prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers will account for 52% of all newly diagnosed cases in 2010 in men. In women, breast, lung, and colorectal cancers will account for 52% of new diagnoses this year.

The ACS estimates that more than 1.5 million new cancer cases -- 789,620 in men and 739,940 in women -- will be diagnosed in 2010. It estimates that 569,490 people will die of cancer this year.

The annual rates of decline might seem small or modest, but they add up to significant drops, David Sampson, spokesman for the ACS, tells WebMD.

Other findings in the report:

  • Prostate cancer will account for 28% of the new cases of cancers in men.
  • Breast cancer is expected to account for 28% of all new cases in women.
  • Cancer incidence rates decreased in men 1.3% per year from 2000 to 2006, and 0.5% in women annually from 1998 to 2006.
  • Lung cancer incidence rates have been declining 1.8% annually in men since 1991 and appear to be leveling off in women after increasing for decades.
  • Colorectal cancer incidence rates dropped markedly from 1998 through 2006, by 3% annually in men and 2.2% in women.
  • Lung cancer will remain the leading cause of cancer death in men and women, followed by prostate cancer for men and breast cancer for women.

 

Building on Past Success

"This report is yet more proof that we are creating a world with more birthdays," says John R. Seffrin, PhD, chief executive of the ACS. "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."

The numbers come from Cancer Statistics 2010, published online in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

The report also says that:

  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death among children between ages 1 to 14, after accidents.
  • The five-year relative survival rate among children for all cancers combined improved from 58% for patients diagnosed in 1975 to 1977 to 81% for those diagnosed in 1999-2005.

Today on WebMD

Building a Support System
Blog
cancer fighting foods
SLIDESHOW
 
precancerous lesions slideshow
SLIDESHOW
quit smoking tips
SLIDESHOW
 
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
Blog
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
 
colorectal cancer treatment advances
Video
breast cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
prostate cancer overview
SLIDESHOW
lung cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
Actor Michael Douglas
Article