For the past two decades, both the incidence and mortality of cancer in America has been in decline. Earlier, in the 1990s, the rate of decline was quite rapid, all things considered, largely due to rather astounding reductions in smoking that followed the first Surgeon General s report in 1964 (cancers from smoking both develop over at least a decade or more, and decline with a similar lag period after quitting).
A new report published in the journal Cancer documents the continuation of this salutary trend. However, the rate of reduction in both death and incidence (new cancers) has slowed quite a bit, again owing largely to the slower fall in smoking rates over the past 10 years or so.
From 2001 through 2010, death rates for all cancers combined decreased by 1.8 percent a year among men and by 1.4 percent a year among women, according to the joint report from some of the nation's top cancer institutions (including the CDC, the NCI and the American Cancer Society).
"The four major cancers -- lung, colorectal, breast and prostate -- represent over two-thirds of the decline," study author Brenda Edwards, a senior advisor for cancer surveillance at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, told HealthDay News.
ACSH s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan had this comment: These findings are most welcome, even as our population ages and the rate of other well-known killers especially cardiovascular diseases continue to fall. Both of these factors would ordinarily combine to raise the rate of new and lethal cancers, yet the opposite is seen. One way to look at this is to realize just how deadly smoking is, given that the main contributor to the declines now reported is the parallel fall in smoking rates. It s too bad that decline has slowed significantly in recent years. We need more effective measures to help more addicted smokers quit, as the commonly used methods simply are not so helpful.