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STUDY: Cancer Burden is Expected to Rise with an Aging Population
AUTHORS: Brenda K. Edwards, Ph.D.
ABSTRACT: New data for 1999 show that death rates for all cancers combined continued to decline in the United States. However, the number of cancer cases can be expected to increase because of the growth and aging of the population in coming decades, according to a report released in the "Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1973-1999, Featuring Implications of Age and Aging on the U.S. Cancer Burden".
COMMENTARY: The report is by the National Cancer Institute (NCI); the American Cancer Society (ACS); the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR); the National Institute on Aging (NIA); and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
The initial Report to the Nation, issued four years ago, documented the first sustained decline in cancer death rates. This trend was a notable reversal from increases that had been seen since the 1930s, which was the period when record keeping on deaths first included the entire nation. "The continuing decline in the rate of cancer deaths once again affirms the progress we've made against cancer, but the report also highlights the need for an acceleration of research as the population of the United States ages," said NCI Director Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D.
Lung cancer is still the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. During the most recent reporting period, it accounted for almost one-third of cancer deaths in men and about one-fourth of cancer deaths in women. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death, followed by breast and prostate cancer.
"The good news in this report is the continuing fall in cancer death rates by slightly more than one percent per year between 1993 and 1999," said John R. Seffrin, Ph.D., chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society. "Of special note is the continuing decline in death rates for the four most common cancers."