The incidences of cancer deaths have decreased by 18.4 per cent among men and 10.5 per cent among women in the US since the early Nineties, according to figures released by the American Cancer Society.
'Cancer Statistics 2008' suggests that more than half a million cancer deaths have been averted since mortality rates began to decline in the early 1990s.
The report also states that society epidemiologists reckon that there will be 1,437,180 new cancer cases—745,180 in men and 692,000 in women—in 2008. It also suggests that 565,650 cancer deaths—294,120 among men and 271,530 among women—might occur this year.
Although the cancer death rate continued to decline from 2004 to 2005, there was an increase of 5,424 actual deaths (559,312 cancer deaths in 2005 compared to 553,888 cancer deaths in 2004).
This increase in actual deaths follows a decrease in the number of cancer deaths in the two previous years.
Experts attribute this change large to a smaller decline in the cancer death rate between 2004 and 2005 compared with that in the two previous time periods.
From 2004 to 2005, overall cancer mortality dropped about one per cent, compared to a two per cent drop from both 2002 to 2003 and 2003 to 2004. With respect to the four major cancer sites, colorectal cancer death rates decreased by about 3 percent from 2004 to 2005, compared to about 6 percent from 2003 to 2004.
The decrease in death rates for cancers of the lung and bronchus and prostate in men and breast in women was also smaller from 2004 to 2005 than from 2003 to 2004.
The study report—published in the March/April issue of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, as well as in the 57th edition of its companion publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2008—says that it is important for the number of cancer deaths to decrease that the decline in the overall cancer mortality rate must be large enough to offset the increasing numbers due to growth and aging of the population.
'The increase in the number of cancer deaths in 2005 after two years of historic declines should not obscure the fact that cancer death rates continue to drop, reflecting the enormous progress that has been made against cancer during the past 15 years,' said John R. Seffrin, American Cancer Society chief executive officer.
'While in 2005 the rate of decline was not enough to overtake other population factors, the fact remains that cancer mortality rates continue to drop, and they're doing so at a rate fast enough that over a half million deaths from cancer were averted between 1990/1991 and 2004,' Seffrin added.
The cancer incidence and mortality data were collected by the Centers for Disease Control, the National Cancer Institute, the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, state and local health agencies, and thousands of cancer registrars throughout the country.
The study report also states that such estimates may assist in continuing efforts to reduce the public health burden of cancer.
'The progress that has been made in reducing cancer death rates is a direct result of investment in approaches that we know work, such as comprehensive tobacco control and screening for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers, as well as research that has identified more successful treatments,' said Dr. Otis W. Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.
'However, we believe that lack of health insurance and inadequate health insurance is one of the most important barriers to continued progress. A growing body of data shows that compared to those with private insurance, those without health insurance are less likely to receive smoking cessation advice and treatment, about half as likely to receive cancer screening, more likely to be diagnosed at late stage, and less likely to survive after a cancer diagnosis. We are committed to addressing this critical issue,' Dr. Brawley added.