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Posted: November 3, 2010 12:30 a.m.

Cancer deaths slowing in the U.S.

According to a recent report from the American Cancer Society, death rates from cancer are continuing to decline in the U.S. That’s the good news. The bad news is that hundreds of thousands of Americans still die of cancer each year. The ACS attributes the slow but steady drop in cancer deaths to lower rates of smoking, increased efforts at early detection and better treatments. Between the years 2001 and 2006 the death rates for all cancers decreased 2 percent per year in men, and 1.5 percent per year in women.

The most common mortal cancers in males were lung, prostate and colorectal, accounting for about half of male cancer deaths. The ACS estimates that these cancers will account for 52 percent of newly diagnosed cancers in men in 2010. For females, lung, breast and colorectal cancers were the most deadly, again accounting for about half of all deaths, and again are expected to account for 52 percent of new diagnosis in women in 2010.

The grim number of cancer deaths each year, however, remains high, with one and half million new cancer cases expected to be diagnosed this year – 789,620 in men and 739,940 in women. The ACS calculates that 569,490 people will die of cancer in the year 2010.

John R. Seffrin, Ph.D., the chief executive of ACS, stated that, "This report is yet more proof that we are creating a world with more birthdays. We will build on our progress in the fight against cancer through laws and policies that increase access to cancer prevention, early detection and treatment services, and with a sustained federal investment in research designed to find breakthroughs in the prevention and treatment of the most deadly kinds of cancer."

The ACS published it’s report in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, Cancer Statistics 2010. Other statistics published in that report are

• After accidents, cancer is the second leading cause of death among children between ages 1 to 14.

• After 5 years, the survival rate among children for all cancers combined improved from 58 perfect for patients diagnosed in 1975 to 1977 to 81 perfect for those diagnosed in 1999-2005.

• More than 767,000 deaths were avoided over the past 16 years because of declining cancer mortality.

"Not all of this was due to some remarkable breakthrough in medical treatment, although some of it certainly is due to better cancer care," writes Leonard Lichtenfeld, MD, MACP, deputy chief medical officer of the national office of ACS, on his blog. "Much of it has to do with stopping smoking, or not starting for that matter, especially among men…much of it has to do with better screening and early detection of breast and colorectal cancer, and perhaps prostate cancer. Some of it may have to do with lifestyle changes, such as increased awareness of the importance of exercise and diet in reducing cancer risk," states Lichtenfeld.

 

C. Kirven Weekley, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist with offices in Covington and Norcross. He specializes in the evaluation and treatment of adults for depression, anxiety, relationship problems and medical issues. He can be reached at (770) 441-9244.

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