Top cancers remain stable in U.S.

September 10, 2003 in Food Companies, Manufacturing and Trends, Nutrition Topics in the News

Top cancers remain stable in U.S.

Advances in detecting and treating cancer, along with the reductions in tobacco use, have helped stabilize death rates from the four top cancer killers, according to a U.S. government report released on this week.

Cancer remains the second biggest cause of death in the United States, after heart disease, but a steady increase in cancer deaths seen in the early 1990s has been stopped and even reversed in some cases, the report found.

The American Cancer Society says nearly 1.3 million Americans were diagnosed with cancer and 500,000 died from cancer in 2002. Lung cancer is by far the biggest cancer killer, taking 157,000 lives this year. Colon cancer will kill 57,000 people in the United States this year, breast cancer will kill 40,000, and prostate cancer will kill 29,000.

The report, from the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Cancer Society and the National American Association of Central Cancer Registries, found a decline in death rates from all four cancers since 1990.

Broken down by sex, however, the statistics show that lung cancer rates and deaths fell for men but continued to rise for women--following smoking trends, which began to decrease in men just as women began to smoke more.

Biomedical advances, such as better screening, diagnoses and treatment techniques, has helped.

The report, which can be found on the Internet at includes the largest number of Americans yet, from 34 statewide cancer registries. They cover 68 percent of the U.S. population--versus 55 percent in previous years. The report says death rates could be lowered even further with better screening--for instance, for colon cancer.

A report earlier this year from the Institute of Medicine said lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and better diet and better screening could prevent almost 100,000 new cancer cases and 60,000 cancer deaths each year.

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