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declines in Cancer Incidence, Mortality
Rates seen for first time, analysis finds
The rate of cancer incidence in the U.S. has
begun to decrease in recent years and cancer
mortality rates have continued to decline,
marking for the first time the downward
trend in both, according to an analysis
published Wednesday in the
Journal of the National Cancer Institute,
Washington Post reports.
The analysis showed that the overall
incidence of cancer began falling in 1999,
and the long-term decline became apparent
after data were analyzed from 2005. Cancer
mortality rates have been falling since the
For the study, researchers from the
Cancer Institute, the
American Association of Central Cancer
Registries -- led by ACS
strategic director for cancer surveillance
Ahmedin Jemal -- examined data from surveys
conducted between 1975 and 2005 and from
According to the report, the overall
incidence of the disease has fallen by 0.8%
annually since 1999.
The rate dropped by 1.8% annually in men
between 2001 and 2005, compared with 0.6%
for women from 1998 through 2005.
The analysis also showed that cancer deaths
have dropped by about 2% in men every year
since 2001 and by 1.6% in women since 2002.
said, "This is really the first year that
rates decreased in both women and men"
The decline primarily is a reduction in
mortality rates for certain common cancers,
including prostate and lung cancers in men,
breast cancer in women and colorectal cancer
in both sexes (Rabin,
New York Times, 11/26).
Researchers say that colorectal screenings
have helped prevent many new cancer cases
and that declines in smoking rates also have
contributed to the trend (Szabo,
USA Today, 11/26).
The report also highlights the variation in
lung cancer mortality rates among states
with strict anti-smoking laws.
Jemal said that it is not clear whether the
decline in new cancer diagnoses shows an
actual decrease in cancer rates or people
forgoing screenings that would have detected
the disease (Neergaard,
City Star, 11/26). He said,
"It's very difficult to say this is good
news or bad news."
He added, "The fact that you have lower
detection rates is not necessarily good
news. The reduction of lung cancer and
colorectal cancer is clearly good news," but
"it's not so clear for breast and prostate
The rate of new cancer diagnoses for myeloma,
non-Hodgkin lymphoma, melanoma and cancers
of the liver, kidney and esophagus have
John Niederhuber, director of NCI, said the
decline is considerable when considering
that the U.S. population is aging and cancer
risk increases with age.
He said, "Some of the things we're doing,
we're doing right" (AP/Kansas
11/26). "Each year that you see these steady
declines it gives you more confidence that
we're moving in the right direction,"
Niederhuber said, adding, "This is not just
a blip on the screen" (New
Jemal said that rates could decrease further
if more people had access to screening and
treatment. "We discover breakthroughs, but
we don't deliver them to everyone. We need
to make sure all Americans have timely
access to prevention, so the entire
population can benefit," Jemal said (USA