American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society released some hopeful statistics Wednesday. Iamge: neoliminal/Flickr/CC BY

The American Cancer Society released some encouraging figures Wednesday. The cancer death rates in America are continuing to fall. The annual report credits advances in cancer screening and treatments as the reason for the decline. However, it also says that the death rates for some of the more rare types of cancer are on the rise.

Cancer deaths down from 2004

The cancer rate for men in the U.S. dropped by 1.8 percent between 2004 and 2008. It dropped by 1.6 percent for women during the same years.

A slow, steady decline

Dr. Raymond DuBois of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center said that, though the decrease is slight, it is significant because it has continued to fall every year for the last decade.

He said in an interview:

“It’s not hitting the ball out of the park, but it had been going up several years prior to that. It’s sign now that it is on the decline.”

Breakdown by ethnicity

The largest decline in cancer deaths for any demographic was among black men. That rate dropped by 2.4 percent. Hispanic men followed closely at 2.3 percent. The only ethnic group to show no decline was among Native Americans. The cancer death rates for them remained unchanged.

Declines in four main types

The most common types of cancer are lung, colon, breast and prostate. The death rates dropped for all of them between 2004 and 2008. The decrease in lung cancer deaths accounted for 40 percent of the decline in males. Breast cancer declines accounted for 34 percent of the drop in deaths of women.

Other forms on the rise

Deaths caused by cancer of the pancreas, thyroid, liver, kidney, skin and esophagus have all increased. Certain types of throat cancer associated with HPV infections are also rising. Researchers are unsure at this time why these kinds of cancer are killing more people. However, obesity is one suspected culprit.



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