Overall cancer death rates fell 2.1% during 2002-2004, compared to 1.1% during 1993-2002, according to a new report published by America’s principal cancer organizations, called Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2004, Featuring Cancer in American Indians and Alaska Natives.

You can read the report in the journal Cancer, November 15th issue.

A featured special edition reports that cancer incidence rates among American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) varied significantly across six different regions of the country. During the period 1999-2004 AI/AN males from the Northern Plains region and AI/AN females from Alaska and the Northern & Southern Plains regions had higher incident rates of cancer compared to non-Hispanic white (NHW) males and females from the same regions.

For the population in general, long-term falls in cancer death rates continued in 2004 for both males and females. Although overall death rates for men were higher, the reductions from 2002 through 2004 were 2.6% annually among men and 1.8% annually among women. Death rates among the top cancers in both men and women fell. Lung, prostate and colorectal cancer – leading causes of death among men – fell most notably. As did death rates for women in colorectal and breast cancers. The increased death rate for female lung cancer slowed down significantly, says the report.

Julie L. Gerberding, M.D., Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said “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.”

John R. Seffrin, Ph.D., CEO, American Cancer Society (ACS), said “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.”

The rate at which new cancers are diagnosed (incidence rates) also fell a little during the period 1992-2004 for both men and women. The incidence rate for breast cancer fell substantially during the period 2001-2004 – this may be partly due to the lower use of HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and recent drops in use of screening mammography.

After long term increases, lung cancer incidence rates among women leveled off during the 1998-2004 period – and fell at 1.8% annually among males for the period 1991-2004.

For both men and women colorectal cancer incidence rates fell by over 2% annually – probably due to prevention through the removal of precancerous polyps.

“Annual report to the nation on the status of cancer, 1975-2004, featuring cancer in American Indians and Alaska Natives”
David K. Espey, MD, Xiao-Cheng Wu, MD, PhD, Judith Swan, MSH, Charles Wiggins, MPH, PhD, Melissa A. Jim, MPH, Elizabeth Ward, PhD , Phyllis A. Wingo, PhD, Holly L. Howe, PhD, Lynn A. G. Ries, MS, Barry A. Miller, DrPH, Ahmedin Jemal, DVM, PhD, Faruque Ahmed, PhD, Nathaniel Cobb, MD, Judith S. Kaur, MD, Brenda K. Edwards, PhD
Cancer – 10.1002/cncr.23044
Click here to view the abstract online

Written by: Christian Nordqvist