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NCI Report: Lung Cancer Death Rates Continue to Fall

Decrease helps drive drop in overall cancer deaths (December 16)

The Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, covering the period 1975–2010, shows death rates for lung cancer — which accounts for more than one in four cancer deaths — dropping at a faster pace than in previous years. The recent larger drop in lung cancer deaths is likely the result of a decrease in the prevalence of cigarette smoking over many years, and is now being reflected in mortality trends, the report says.

The decline in the lung cancer death rate, as well as declines in colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer death rates, has also helped drive decreases in death rates for all cancers types combined, a trend that began about 20 years ago. The decreased death rates for these four cancers accounted for more than two-thirds of the overall reduction in cancer death rates in the period 2001 to 2010.

The report shows, however, that death rates increased for some cancers, including cancers of the liver and pancreas for both sexes, cancers of the uterus in women, and, in men only, melanoma of the skin and cancers of the soft tissue during this 10-year period.

The report, produced annually since 1998, is co-authored by researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which is part of the National Institutes of Health; the American Cancer Society (ACS); the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR). It was published in the Dec. 16 online edition of Cancer.

The report finds that from 2001 through 2010, death rates for all cancers combined decreased by 1.8% per year among men and by 1.4% per year among women. Death rates among children 14 years of age and younger decreased by 1.9% per year.

The report also finds that lung cancer death rates for men dropped 1.9% per year during the period 1993–2005 and fell by 2.9% per year from 2005 to 2010. For women, the rates declined 1.4% per year during the period 2004–2010, which was a turnaround from an increase of 0.3% per year during the period 1995–2004.

Sources: NCI; December 16, 2013; and Cancer; December 16, 2013.

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