The number of cancer deaths have steadily declined in the United States over the past 15 years, saving a possible 650,000 lives over that period, the American Cancer Society said Wednesday.
But 1.48 million cases will be diagnosed this year and over 562,000 people will die from cancer this year, ACS said in its annual cancer statistics report.
The cancer death rate fell by 19.2 percent for men between 1990 and 2005, mostly due to declines in deaths from lung, prostate and colorectal cancer, the group said.
Deaths from cancer, the second-biggest killer in the United States after heart disease, decreased by 11.4 percent for women over the same period, in large part due to decreases in breast and colorectal cancer.
The numbers showed that early cancer detection, such as through colonoscopy, has yielded good results. They also pointed to improved cancer treatment.
Cancer cases were also on the decline, with a 1.8 percent annual drop for men between 2001 and 2005 and a 0.6 annual decrease for women between 1998 and 2005.
"A drop of one or two percent per year may sound small, but as this report shows, that adds up to 650,000 cancer deaths avoided over 15 years," said ACS CEO John Seffrin.
Deaths from lung cancer, by far the biggest cancer killer, fell for men mostly due to a decrease in smoking, the report noted, adding that the lung cancer death rate had stabilized for women after rising for several decades.
The report said lung cancer is expected to account for 26 percent of all female cancer deaths in 2009.
It found that African-American men have an 18 percent higher cancer incidence rate than white men and a 36 percent higher cancer death rate.
But African-American women, the report said, are less likely than white women to get cancer, although they are more likely to die from cancer if they get it.
For all cancers diagnosed in the United States between 1996 and 2004, the five-year relative survival rate -- considered like a near-recovery -- was 66 percent, up from 50 percent in 1975-1977.