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Lung Cancer Death Rate Falls for Women

Study Also Shows the Overall Cancer Death Rate Continues to Decline

Lung Cancer: Men vs. Women

More than a decade after the lung cancer death rate among men began to decline, significant decreases in lung cancer incidence and deaths are finally being seen in women.

Between 2003 and 2007, the lung cancer death rate among women fell by almost 1%, compared to a 6% annual increase from 1975 to 1982 and a 1.7% annual increase from 1990 to 1995.

Cigarette smoking peaked among men who were born in the early 1920s.

But women started smoking in large numbers later than men, with rates peaking among those born in the latter half of the 1930s.

Smoking rates also began to decline among women later than men. This is explains why lung cancer death rates continued to rise among women after they began falling in men.

Jemal says lung cancer rates among women in the U.S. can be expected to continue to decline for at least the next two decades as older smokers die and are replaced by women who have never smoked.

Cancer Rates: Racial Gap

African-Americans continue to have the highest cancer death rates overall, but they also saw the largest declines in the overall cancer death rate between 1998 and 2007.

Again, this is largely due to declines in cancers related to smoking, Jemal says.

?When we look at the cancers most affected by screening, the disparity between blacks and whites is still increasing,? he says. ?But the death rate disparity is narrowing because smoking-related cancers are declining. The biggest reductions in smoking, especially in younger age groups, have occurred in African-Americans.?

While overall cancer incidence fell for African-Americans and whites, increases were seen in specific cancers:

  • Among men, rates of melanoma as well as liver, kidney, and pancreatic cancer increased between 2003 and 2007, and the death rates for all but kidney cancer also rose.
  • Among women, the incidence of melanoma, leukemia, and kidney, thyroid, and pancreatic cancer increased during the same time period. Death rates rose for pancreatic, liver, and uterine cancer.
  • Among children, cancer death rates continued to decline, as they have since the mid-1970s. But the incidence of childhood cancer has risen slightly since 1992, by about 0.6% a year.

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