More Than 650,000 Cancer Deaths Avoided
Decline in Cancer Death Rate Means 650,400 Fewer Cancer Deaths Between
1991-1992 and 2005
By Miranda Hitti
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
May 27, 2009 -- The American Cancer Society today announced that 650,400 U.S.
cancer deaths were avoided from the early 1990s through 2005.
That news appears in the early online edition of CA: A Cancer Journal for
The report shows a 19% drop in men's overall cancer death rates between 1990
and 2005 and a decline of about 11% in women's overall cancer death rates
between 1991 and 2005.
Those declines reflect a long-term, gradual decline in cancer death rates,
which trace back to a drop in certain cancers and better screening and survival
for certain cancers.
"A drop of 1% or 2% per year in the cancer mortality rate may sound small,
but as this report shows, that adds up," John R. Seffrin, PhD, the American
Cancer Society's chief executive officer, says in a news release.
"Because the rate continues to drop, it means that in recent years, about
100,000 people each year who would have died if cancer death rates had not
declined are living to celebrate another birthday. That is undeniable evidence
of the lifesaving progress that we as a country must dedicate ourselves to
continuing," Seffrin says.
Still, cancer remains the top cause of death for people younger than 85 (heart disease is the leading cause of death for all age groups combined).
The American Cancer Society estimates that about 562,340 people will die of
cancer in 2009, which is more than 1,500 cancer deaths per day.
Men's Top Cancers
Prostate cancer will remain men's most commonly diagnosed cancer, according
to the American Cancer Society.
Here is the American Cancer Society's estimate of new cases of cancer among
U.S. men in 2009 (not including nonmelanoma skin cancer and in situ
- Prostate cancer: 192,280 new cases
- Lung cancer: 116,090 new cases
- Colorectal cancer: 75,590 new cases
- Bladder cancer: 52,810 new cases
- Melanoma: 39,080 new cases
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: 35,990 new cases
- Kidney cancer: 35,430 new cases
- Leukemia: 25,630 new cases
- Cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx: 25,240 new cases
- Pancreatic cancer: 21,050 new cases
Lung cancer is expected to remain men's most common cause of cancer death in
2009, according to the American Cancer Society:
- Lung cancer: 88,900 deaths
- Prostate cancer: 27,360 deaths
- Colorectal cancer: 25,240 deaths
- Pancreatic cancer: 18,030 deaths
- Leukemia: 12,590 deaths
- Liver cancer: 12,090 deaths
- Esophageal cancer: 11,490 deaths
- Bladder cancer: 10,180 deaths
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: 9,830 deaths
- Kidney cancer: 8,160 deaths
Women's Top Cancers
Breast cancer is expected to be the most commonly diagnosed cancer among U.S.
women, but lung cancer will be women's deadliest cancer, the American Cancer
Here are the top 10 cancers that will be diagnosed in 2009, according to the
American Cancer Society:
- Breast cancer: 192,370 new cases
- Lung cancer: 103,350 new cases
- Colorectal cancer: 71,380 new cases
- Uterine cancer: 42,160 new cases
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: 29,990 new cases
- Melanoma: 29,640 new cases
- Thyroid cancer: 27,200 new cases
- Kidney cancer: 22,330 new cases
- Ovarian cancer: 21,550 new cases
- Pancreatic cancer: 21,420 new cases
The 10 most common causes of women's cancer deaths for 2009, as estimated by
the American Cancer Society, are as follows:
- Lung cancer: 70,490 deaths
- Breast cancer: 40,170 deaths
- Colorectal cancer: 24,680 deaths
- Pancreatic cancer: 17,210 deaths
- Ovarian cancer: 14,600 deaths
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: 9,670 deaths
- Leukemia: 9,280 deaths
- Uterine cancer: 7,780 deaths
- Liver cancer: 6,070 deaths
- Brain and other nervous system cancers: 5,590 deaths
Race, Education Gaps
The decline in cancer death rates has been greater for some groups than for
others. Access to cancer screening and medical care is part of the reason for
that, notes the American Cancer Society.
People with more education generally had bigger declines in their cancer
death rates. And there were racial and ethnic gaps, including these patterns:
- New cancer diagnoses and cancer deaths were more common from 2001 to 2005
among African-Americans than among whites, except for breast cancer (more new
cases among whites), lung cancer (more new cases and more deaths among white
women than African-American women), and kidney cancer (more deaths among
- New cases of stomach and liver cancer, and deaths from those cancers, are
twice as common among Asian-American/Pacific Islanders than among whites. That
reflects increased prevalence of chronic infection with
H. pylori bacteria and
the hepatitis B and
C viruses, according to the American Cancer Society.
- American Indians/Alaskan natives have the highest rates of new cases of
kidney cancer and kidney cancer deaths.
The American Cancer Society recommends taking these steps to reduce the
chances of developing cancer:
- Don't smoke or use other tobacco products. The American Cancer Society
estimates that tobacco will cause about 169,000 U.S. cancer deaths in 2009.
- Maintain a healthy weight throughout life. According to the American Cancer
Society, being overweight or obese is linked to increased risk of certain
cancers, including breast cancer, colon cancer, endometrial cancer, esophageal
cancer, and kidney cancer.
- Adopt a physically active lifestyle. Adults should get at least 30 minutes
(and ideally 45-60 minutes) of moderate to vigorous physical activity at least
five days per week. Children and teens should get at least an hour of moderate
to vigorous activity at least five days per week.
- Eat a healthy diet that emphasizes plant sources. Watch portion sizes, read
food labels, eat five or more servings of vegetables and fruits daily, choose
whole grains over processed grains and sugars, and limit consumption of
processed and red meats.
- If you drink alcoholic beverages, limit consumption. Women should drink no
more than one drink per day; men no more than two drinks per day.
- Get routine cancer screening. Early detection of cancer can mean a better
prognosis. Some cancers, like ovarian cancer, don't have routine screening
tests, but even when screening tests exist, not everyone uses them. For
instance, the American Cancer Society notes that mammography usage hasn't
increased since 2000, and that less than half -- 47% -- of Americans 50 and
older have gotten a colorectal cancer screening test.
Jemal, A. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, May 27, 2009; advance
News release, American Cancer Society.
American Cancer Society: "Cancer Prevention & Early Detection Facts & Figures,
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