National Cancer Institute Reports Drop in Cancer Death Rates

The National Cancer Institute has released its annual cancer status report with these significant findings:

The long-term decline in overall cancer death rates continued through 2003 for all races and both sexes combined. The declines were greater among men (1.6 percent per year from 1993 through 2003) than women (0.8 percent per year from 1992 through 2003), although rates for men remain 46 percent higher than for women. Death rates decreased for 11 of the 15 most common cancers in men and for 10 of the 15 most common cancers in women. The authors attribute the decrease in death rates, in part, to successful efforts to reduce exposure to tobacco, earlier detection through screening, and more effective treatment, saying that continued success will depend on maintaining and enhancing these efforts. “The greater decline in cancer death rates among men is due in large part to their substantial decrease in tobacco use. We need to enhance efforts to reduce tobacco use in women so that the rate of decline in cancer death rates becomes comparable to that of men,” said Betsy A. Kohler, President of the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, Inc (NAACCR).

Other noteworthly findings were a leveling off of the breast cancer incidence rate over the period 2001 – 2003, ending a string of increases that began in the 1980s and an increase female thyroid cancer incidence rates.