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US cancer deaths continue to drop: report

world Updated: May 28, 2009 12:03 IST

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The number of cancer deaths has steadily declined in the United States over the past 15 years, saving a possible 650,000 lives over that period, the American Cancer Society has said.

But 1.48 million cases will be diagnosed this year and over 562,000 people will die from cancer this year, ACS said yesterday in its annual cancer statistics report.

The cancer death rate fell by 19.2 per cent for men between 1990 and 2005, mostly due to declines in deaths from lung, prostate and colorectal cancer, the group said.

Deaths from cancer, the second-biggest killer in the United States after heart disease, decreased by 11.4 per cent for women over the same period, in large part due to decreases in breast and colorectal cancer.

The numbers showed that early cancer detection, such as through colonoscopy, has yielded good results. They also pointed to improved cancer treatment.

Cancer cases were also on the decline, with a 1.8 per cent annual drop for men between 2001 and 2005 and a 0.6 annual decrease for women between 1998 and 2005.

"A drop of one or two per cent per year may sound small, but as this report shows, that adds up to 650,000 cancer deaths avoided over 15 years," said ACS CEO John Seffrin.

Deaths from lung cancer, by far the biggest cancer killer, fell for men mostly due to a decrease in smoking, the report noted, adding that the lung cancer death rate had stabilised for women after rising for several decades.