New Report: Cancer Death Rates Continue to Drop

bigstock-Business-Graph-15731144It’s not often national cancer statistics offer up good news, but a just-released annual report on US cancer incidence and mortality points to some encouraging trends.

According to the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975–2009 (a joint product of The American Cancer Society (ACS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR)) the nation’s overall cancer death rates continue to decline.

Notably, the mortality rate for all four of the most common (non-skin) cancers in the US — lung, colorectal, breast and prostate — are decreasing.

“As an organization dedicated to the evidence-based message that diet and physical activity can and do lower cancer risk, AICR is heartened any time we see the death toll from cancer moving in the right direction — down,” said AICR Director of Research Susan Higginbotham, PhD, RD.

Higginbotham noted that the decreases in cancer mortality highlighted in the report have many causes. Improvements in medical care over the last ten years have resulted in earlier diagnoses and more effective treatment.

But she stressed that cancer prevention and survival isn’t just about better screening and stronger cancer drugs. AICR’s research has demonstrated that everyday choices about diet, weight and physical activity protect against cancer.  “If all Americans ate smarter, moved more and stayed lean,” said Higginbotham, “markedly fewer of us would get cancer, and all of us — cancer survivors included — would live longer, healthier lives.”

In fact, AICR estimates that fully 1/3 of the most common cancers in the US (about 400,000 cases a year) could be prevented by making small adjustments to our lifestyle.

Not all of the news from the new report is good, however. This year, the report focuses on increases in several HPV-related cancers. And for three specific (non-skin) cancers — those of the pancreas, liver and uterus — both incidence and mortality are on the rise.

A recent AICR/WCRF report on pancreatic cancer concluded that carrying excess body fat is a cause of pancreatic cancer.  An earlier AICR/WCRF expert report found a strong link between alcoholic drinks and liver cancer.


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