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US cancer death rates fall

15th October 2007

Effective screening programmes and early detection have played a key part in falling death rates among cancer patients in the United States.

cervical cancer

Cancer death rates in the US fell by more than 2% from 2002 to 2004, with important declines measured in deaths from breast and colon cancer among women, and in lung, prostate and colorectal cancers among men.

A rise persisted in lung cancer deaths among women, although it was slowing, according to a study conducted by the National Cancer Institute, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Cancer Society and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries.

CDC director Julie Gerberding said the decline in cancer death rates was 'significant'.

She said it demonstrated important progress in the fight against cancer through effective tobacco control, screening, early detection and appropriate treatment.

The two-year decline was almost twice the decline (1.1%) measured over the period 1993 to 2002.

John Seffrin, executive officer of the American Cancer Society said the gains made could be even greater if everyone in the country had access to essetial health care, including primary care and prevention services.

However, he said the evidence showed a turning of the tide in the fight against cancer.

The American Cancer Society estimates that around 1.4 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year, and that 560,000 will die of it.

The report found the incidence of female breast cancer dropped substantially from 2001 to 2004, and could possibly be attributed to the declining use of hormone replacement therapy but also to a decline in screening mammography, suggesting that many women had cancers that were going undetected.

Colorectal cancer incidence rates decreased by more than 2% per year for men and women, probably due to prevention through the removal of precancerous polyps during colonoscopies, the report said.

Drops in the lung cancer rate could be directly linked to reduced tobacco use, although smoking rates were still on the rise among women.

But experts called for renewed funding for cancer research, which had declined in real terms by 12% since 2004.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology has asked for a nearly 7% increase in the National Institutes of Health budget.

 

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