Thanks to better prevention and treatment methods, fewer Americans are dying today from cancer than at any time over the past decade and a half, new figures from the American Cancer Society show.
"This is good news because cancer death rates have continued to decrease since the early 1990s because of prevention and improved treatment for many cancers," said lead author Dr. Ahmedin Jemal, the strategic director of cancer surveillance at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, Georgia. "We have to be optimistic based on the trends. We are on the right track."
The significant decline – the death rate among men fell a staggering 19.2 percent – is due mainly to decreases in lung, prostate and colon cancer deaths; among women, deaths dropped by 11.4 percent, due largely to a decline in breast and colorectal cancer fatalities, according to the findings, published in the July/August issue of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. But the positive conclusions do not detract from the fact that there is still much work to do, the researchers note. This year alone, there will be close to 1.5 million new cancer diagnoses in the United States, with some 562,340 people expected to die of the disease.
“This means that more than 1,500 people will die of cancer each day in 2009,” reports Health.com. And, there is particularly much work to do in the African-American community. Blacks still die disproportionately from the disease, and Black men are 18 percent more likely to develop cancer and 36 percent more likely to die. Although Black women have a 6-percent lower incidence rate, their death rate is still 17 percent higher than that of White women.
"It's good news that the death rates for the most common cancers are on the decline, but there are still too many Americans dying of cancer every year," said Dr. Alan Astrow, director of medical oncology and hematology at Maimonides Cancer Center in New York City. "It's troubling that African-Americans continue to experience higher rates of mortality from cancer than Whites. It's also troubling that Americans with less education have higher death rates. There are continued high rates of deaths from lung cancer. It's hard to feel good about 160,000 Americans dying of lung cancer every year. That's a disturbing statistics which we, as a nation, need to address."