Is Cancer on the Decline in the U.S.?

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Is Cancer on the Decline in the U.S.? In a realm of health news that is quite negative overall, positive signs are emerging from the latest cancer statistics. It looks like cancer prevention is working and fewer people are facing major cancer risk. The latest numbers show cancer rates and cancer death rates dropping in the U.S.

The stats come courtesy of the American Cancer Society. Between 2004 and 2008, overall cancer incidence rates declined by 0.6% per year in men and were stable in women. Cancer death rates decreased by 1.8% and 1.6% per year in men and women.

The new report shows that over the past decade, cancer death rates have declined across the board. It translates to more than a million fewer people dying from cancer since 1990.

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Here are the main numbers we should all consider and digest regarding one of our biggest health foes:

— A total of 1,638,910 new cancer cases and 577,190 deaths from cancer are projected to occur this year in the United States.

— The most rapid declines in death rates occurred among African American and Hispanic men.

— Death rates continue to decline for all four major cancer sites (lung, colorectal, breast and prostate).

— There have been major drops in lung cancer death rates in men (responsible for 40% of the total decline) and breast cancer death rates in women (responsible for 34%).

— About 1,024,400 cancer deaths (732,900 in men and 291,500 in women) were averted from 1991/1992 through 2008 as a result of 18 years of consistent declines.

The American Cancer Society believes that more progress can be made by using cancer control knowledge and applying it across the population to all socioeconomic groups. This would drop cancer rates much further.

This special report also found that several cancers are, unfortunately, on the upswing. These include cancers of the pancreas, liver, thyroid and kidney and melanoma of the skin, as well as esophageal adenocarcinoma. The reasons are not entirely known. Part of the increase may be linked to high rates of obesity — as well as increases in early detection practices.