Here's some welcome news from the front lines in the nation's cancer battle: recent findings in a report published in the journal Cancer demonstrates that cancer death rates have steadily decreased on average 2.1 percent each year between 2002 and 2004. This is nearly double the 1.1 percent annual rate of decline each year from 1993 through 2002Although overall death rate in men was found to be higher, the decline from 2002 to 2004 was surprising greater among men, 2.6 percent each year compared to just 1.8 percent each year for women. More recent data gathered between 2001 and 2007 found the continuing overall cancer death rate decreasing 1.9 percent each year from 2001 to 2007 in men and by 1.5 percent in women between 2002 and 2007.
Amongst men, the leading causes of cancer, including lung, prostate, and colorectal cancers, all declined noticeably. For women, colorectal and breast cancer death rates decreased, as well. Lung cancer deaths among women fell for the first time ever between 2003 and 2007, falling nearly 1 percent each year.
According to the director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Julie Gerberding, this significant reduction in cancer death rates signifies crucial progress the ongoing fight against cancer. She believes methods such as tobacco control, screening, early detection, and appropriate treatment have all been effective. The overall rate of cancer diagnoses for men and women combined has also dropped an average slightly less than one percent each year between of 2004 and 2007.
The breast cancer incidence rate for breast cancer also fell dramatically during 2001-2004 due to decreased use of hormone replacement therapy. Although the use of screening mammography has been credited with recent declines in breast cancer, new evidence from a large Norwegian study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that better treatment and increased awareness were the primary reasons for a decline in mortality.
Chief executive officer at the American Cancer Society, John Seffrin, believes that the mounting evidence is indicative a turning tide in the ongoing cancer battle. He claims that the gains could be even greater if access to essential healthcare, including primary care and prevention services, could be increased in the U.S.