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Cancer Death Rate Report Shows Progress and Failures

cancer death rate

New report says the cancer death rate is declining and almost 900,000 deaths were prevented due to continuing advancements in cancer prevention and treatment. However, it also reveals that not all sectors of the population are benefiting equally.

The report, published by the American Cancer Society, said that the death rate for all cancers fell by nearly 2 percent per year in men and 1.5 percent per year for women between the years 2001 to 2007. That means that 898,000 are still living who would have otherwise died between 1990 and 2007.

Education and Race Are Determining Factors

However, despite the steady overall declines in death rates from cancer, disparities still remain among races and education levels. The most educated Caucasians are far less likely to die from cancer than those of Hispanic or African decent or those who have less education. In fact, those with the least amount of education are more than twice as likely to die from cancer than those who have the most.

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Experts from the report said that education level, a common measure of socioeconomic status, made the most difference in whether or not one would die from cancer. “For African Americans, closing the gap between death rates among the most and least educated could potentially avert twice as many premature cancer deaths as eliminating racial disparities between blacks and whites, underscoring the preponderance of poverty in cancer disparities across all segments of the population,” read the press release from the American Cancer Society.

Other major findings in the report include:

  • Men have a higher lifetime risk of being diagnosed with cancer than women (44 percent and 38 percent respectively).
  • There was a rapid decline in colorectal cancer due to improvements in screening and polyp removals. Other major cancers that have also declined include breast and prostate cancer.
  • For men, the majority of newly diagnosed cancers are lung, bronchus and colorectal cancers
  • For women breast, lung, broncus and colorectal cancer are the most frequently diagnosed.
  • The majority of the decline in the cancer rates in men are due to decreases in lung, prostate and colorectal cancers and in women breast and colorectal cancers.

"The nearly 900,000 cancer deaths avoided over a 17-year period stand in stark contrast to the repeated claim that cancer death rates have not budged," said John R. Seffrin, Ph.D., chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society. "Nonetheless, we refuse to be satisfied, and are committed to doing whatever it takes, not only to ensure cancer death rates continue to drop, but to accelerate the decline."

Resource: American Cancer Society