The report suggests that among the general population, long-term declines in cancer death rates continued through 2004 for both sexes, and despite overall higher death rates for men, the declines from 2002 through 2004 were 2.6 percent per year among men and 1.8 percent per year among women.
While death rates decreased for the majority of the top 15 cancers in both men and women, significant declines were noted for the three leading causes of cancer deaths in menlung, prostate and colorectal cancers.
In women, deaths rates from colorectal cancer and breast cancer decreased, while the rate of increase for lung cancer deaths slowed substantially.
"The significant decline in cancer death rates demonstrates important progress in the fight against cancer that has been achieved through effective tobacco control, screening, early detection, and appropriate treatment. As a nation, we must commit to continuing and enhancing these important public health efforts," said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director, Dr. Julie L. Gerberding.
"The evidence is unmistakable: we are truly turning the tide in the cancer battle. The gains could be even greater if everyone in the U.S. had access to essential healthcare, including primary care and prevention services," added Dr. John R. Seffrin, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society (ACS).
The researchers said that overall cancer incidence rates for both sexes and all races combined declined slightly from 1992 through 2004. They also said that Incidence rates for female breast cancer dropped substantially from 2001 through 2004.
According to them, the reduction in cancer incidence rates is possibly related to declining use of hormone replacement therapy as well as the recently reported decline in use of screening mammography.
The researchers have also found that lung cancer incidence rates in women stabilized from 1998 through 2004 after long term increases, and in men, the rate declined 1.8 percent per year from the period 1991 through 2004.
Colorectal cancer incidence rates decreased by more than 2 per cent per year for men and women, possibly due to prevention through the removal of pre-cancerous polyps.
Cancer death rates among American Indians and Alaska Natives across the US decreased on average 2.1 percent per year during the same period. The reported reduction in the cancer death rates is nearly twice the annual decrease of 1.1 percent per year from 1993 through 2002.
Published in the online edition of Cancer, the report shows that cancer incidence rates among American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) men and women varied two-fold among six geographic regions of the country.
From 1999 through 2004, AI/AN men from the Northern Plains region and AI/AN women from Alaska and the Northern and Southern Plains regions had higher cancer incidence rates than non-Hispanic white (NHW) men and women in the same areas.
While the top three cancers for men and women are the same for AI/AN and NHW populations, there were important differences by region and type of cancer.
"We are firmly committed to addressing cancer health disparities so that the benefits of decades of research can reach all Americans. The fact that lung and colorectal cancers rates were higher in some American Indian and Alaska Native populations points to the work we still have to do," said National Cancer Institute (NCI) Director Dr. John E. Niederhuber.