Cancer death rates in the U.S. continue to decline, national report finds


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Dana-Farber president: Trends are encouraging, but more improvements are needed

A report from the nation's leading cancer organizations shows rates of death in the United States from all cancers for men and women continued to decline between 2003 and 2007.

The findings come from the latest Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer.

The report also finds that the overall rate of new cancer diagnoses for men and women combined decreased an average of slightly less than one percent per year for the same period.

Edward J. Benz, Jr., MD, president of Dana-Farber Cancer in Institute in Boston, called the news encouraging, but cautions we still have a very long way to go in our fight against cancer.

"Overall, the rate of cancer deaths is falling, but not by a lot, not nearly enough," said Benz. "But considering that the incidence of cancer continues to increase, while the number of deaths is flat or falling a little bit, it does suggest that efforts of prevention, early detection, and better treatments are having a positive impact."

The report is co-authored by researchers from the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Cancer Society.

It will be on the website of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute on March 31, and will be published in the journal's May 14 print issue.

The authors of the report emphasized the need to focus further on reducing the cancer burden in the population as a whole through prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer.

"One of the best ways to avoid dying of cancer is to prevent it in the first place," added Dr. Benz.

"This involves making lifestyle adjustments, such as not smoking, being careful about exposure to the sun, your diet, and exercise, and being careful about exposure to chemicals in the workplace," he added. "Patients also need to be sure to participate with their primary care physician in the kinds of screening that can pick up cancers very early."

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Anne Doerr
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