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Saturday, January 20th 2007

Cancer Death Rates Drop

Being fashionably late to the party, I link to the news that cancer deaths continue to drop in this country.

The American Cancer Society reported Wednesday that about 3,000 fewer people died from cancer in 2004 than 2003. The drop followed a decline of 369 deaths the previous year, the first such decrease since researchers started keeping national statistics 70 years ago.

“This is an important achievement and milestone,” said Elizabeth Ward, the society’s director of surveillance research and one of the report’s authors. “Two successive declines in deaths, the latest 10 times more than the first, give us confidence the trend is real.”

Ward and other researchers attributed the decrease to earlier detection, improvements in treatment and healthier lifestyles, particularly less smoking.

The ACS report found that cancer deaths dropped to 553,888 in 2004, the most recent year for which statistics are available — down from 556,902 in 2003 and 557,271 in 2002. It did not break down deaths by state.

The decline came despite a growing population of elderly people, who are most susceptible to cancer. Until last year’s report, that factor kept the number of cancer deaths on the increase even though the cancer death rate has been dropping between 1 percent and 2 percent a year since 1991.