Oct. 4, 2005 -- America's cancer death rate has been dropping since the early 1990s, a new study shows.
That's "progress," write the researchers in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Lung cancer remains the No. 1 cause of cancer deaths for men and women alike, the study shows.
The annual report is a joint project of the American Cancer Society, the CDC, the National Cancer Institute, and the North American Association of Cancer Registries.
Fewer Cancer Deaths
The drop in overall cancer death rates began in the early 1990s. Before that, reported cancer deaths had risen for more than 60 years, write the National Cancer Institute's Brenda Edwards, PhD, and colleagues.
Cancer deaths for men and women combined dropped about 1% per year from 1993 to 2002, the study shows.
Death rates dropped for 12 of the 15 most common cancers for men. Those were cancers of the lung, prostate, colon and rectum, pancreas, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, leukemia, bladder, stomach, brain, and oral cavity, as well as myeloma and melanoma.
Death rates also dropped for nine of the 15 most common cancers for women. Those were cancers of the breast, colon and rectum, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, leukemia, brain, stomach, cervix, and bladder, as well as myeloma.
The researchers did not include nonmelanoma skin cancers in their study.
Slight Rise in Women's Cancer Cases
The study didn't just track cancer deaths. It also covered how many people have cancer. That's called the incidence of cancer.
Men's incidence for all cancer sites combined was stable from 1995 to 2002.
However, women's incidence of cancer rose slightly (by less than 0.5% per year) from 1987 to 2002.
Women's lung cancer deaths also rose from 1995 to 2002. However, the incidence was stable from 1998 to 2002, the study shows.
Most Common Cancers
Here are the five most common cancers for men from 1992 to 2002:
- Prostate cancer
- Lung cancer
- Colon and rectal cancer
- Urinary bladder cancer
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
The five most common cancers for women during that period were:
Leading Cancer Killers
The leading causes of cancer deaths from 1992 to 2002 for men were:
Women's top five causes of cancer deaths were:
Some Groups Left Out
"This progress is not equally shared across all racial and ethnic populations," write the researchers.
For instance, black men's death rate for all cancer sites combined was 43% higher than that of white men. Black men's death rates for myeloma, prostate cancer, and stomach cancer were more than 200% higher than those of white men, the study shows.
Asians/Pacific Islanders, American Indian/Native Alaskan, and Hispanic/Latino populations generally had fewer cancer cases and cancer deaths than blacks and whites.
Exceptions include stomach and liver cancer. Those cancers disproportionately affect Asians/Pacific Islanders, American Indian/Native Alaskan, and Hispanic/Latino populations, the researchers write.
Cutting Your Cancer Risk
Check with your doctor about lowering your cancer risk. Strategies to improve your lifestyle may include quitting smoking, becoming more physically active, and eating healthfully.
Also, be sure to get screening tests that are recommended for your age group. Those tests may include mammography, which checks for breast cancer, and colonoscopy, which looks for signs of colon cancer. Early detection may boost your odds of surviving cancer.