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ACS: Cancer statistics are improving

The number of deaths due to cancer continues to decline in the United States, according to new statistics from the American Cancer Society.

In fact, the downward trend, which began in the early 1990s, means about 767,000 fewer deaths from cancer over the past two decades, according to society estimates.

The report finds that the death rate from cancer overall in the United States in 2007 was 178.4 per 100,000 people, a drop of 1.3 percent from the previous year.

This decline continues a trend that started in 1991 for men and in 1992 for women. Since that time, death rates have fallen 21 percent among men and 12 percent among women, the report states.

Prevention, early detection and improved treatment are all likely reasons there has been a decrease, according to the report.

As before, lung cancer remains the biggest cancer killer of both men and women. For men, the next biggest killers are cancers of the prostate and colon. For women, breast and colon that are the second and third most lethal cancers by number.

Overall, these cancers account for 50 percent of all cancer deaths among men and women, the report found.

And while cancer is on the retreat, the good news hasn’t affected all Americans equally.

Indeed, the report found that black men are 14 percent more likely to get cancer and 34 percent more likely to die from it than white men, while black women have a 7-percent lower cancer rate overall but are 17 percent more likely to die from it than white women.

Other highlights of the report, “Cancer Statistics 2010,” which was published online in “CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians:”

Cancer incidence rates dropped by 1.3 percent per year from 2000 to 2006 in men and 0.5 percent per year from 1998 to 2006 in women.

Cancer death rates decreased 2 percent per year from 2001 to 2006 in men and 1.5 percent per year from 2002 to 2006 in women.

Death rates have continued to drop in all four major cancer sites in men and in women, except for lung cancer in women, where rates have stabilized since 2003 after increasing for several decades.

Lung cancer rates in men have been dropping by 1.8 percent per year since 1991.

Colorectal cancer rates have dropped by 3 percent per year from 1998 through 2006 in men and by 2.2 percent per year in women.

Breast cancer rates dropped 2 percent per year from 1999 to 2006 and 6 percent from 2002 to 2003, but from 2003 to 2006 the incidence rate leveled off.

Among women, lung cancer is expected to account for 26 percent of all cancer deaths in 2010.

Among children aged 1 to 14 in the United States, cancer is the second leading cause of death, after accidents. However, the five-year survival rate for children with any cancer improved from 58 percent for those diagnosed in 1975-1977 to 81 percent for those diagnosed in 1999-2005.