Producers Resource Center

Cancer Cases And Deaths Continue to Drop

According to the findings of a new report, new cancer cases and deaths from cancer have declined significantly for both men and women and for most racial and ethnic populations.

These decreases were largely due to decreased incidence and death from lung, prostate and colon cancer among men and a drop in two of the three leading cancers in women which include breast and colon cancers. 

Data from the American Cancer Society, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries revealed that new diagnoses for all types of cancer in the United States declined almost 1 percent per year from 1999 to 2006 and cancer deaths dropped 1.6 percent per year from 2001 to 2006. 

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which tracks data for the three primary illnesses afflicting Americans (cancer, heart attack and stroke) there were nearly 1.5 million people with new cancer diagnoses in 2009. 

Cancer rates are still higher for men than for women, but men had the biggest declines in new cases and death, the study revealed.  This year’s report focused on trends in colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer, the third most-diagnosed cancer in both men and women, is also the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. 

Overall, colon cancer rates are declining, but the decline is mostly among those over 65. Increasing numbers of cases in men and women under 50 is worrisome, the report noted.  Among both men and women, there were major declines in colorectal cancer cases from 1985 to 1995, minor increases from 1995 to 1998, and significant declines from 1998 to 2006. Since 1984, death rates also dropped, with accelerated rates of decline since 2002 for men and since 2001 for women.

In fact, from 1975 to 2000, cases of colorectal cancer fell 22 percent; 50 percent of which was most likely due to changes in lifestyle, and 50 percent to more people being screened. 

In addition, deaths from colorectal cancer fell 26 percent during the same time; 9 percent of the drop came from lifestyle changes, 14 percent came from screening and 3 percent came from improved treatment, according to the report. 

Going forward, if there were no changes in lifestyle, screening or treatment, there would be a 17 percent drop in colorectal cancer deaths from 2000 to 2020. However, if current trends remain the same, there will be a 36 percent drop in colorectal cancer deaths. 

If more Americans adopted more healthy lifestyles, such as quitting smoking, and were screened for colon cancer and had access to optimal treatment (such as more effective chemotherapy), deaths from colon cancer could be reduced by 50 percent by 2020, the report predicted.

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