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Mortality Rates for the Big Four Cancers Continue to Decline

Mortality Rates for the Big Four Cancers Continue to Decline

BETHESDA, Maryland-Newly released data show that the nation's mortality rate for all cancers combined, which declined between 1994 and 1998, remained stable from 1998 through 2000. However, the mortality rate for the four leading malignancies in the United States-lung, female breast, prostate, and colorectal-continued to decline in the late 1990s, according to the "Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2000." Mortality for colorectal cancer dropped 11.8% for both sexes of all ages and races in the 5-year span 1996 to 2000. Death rates for the four cancers declined in most states as well as nationally. The overall cancer incidence es- sentially continued to plateau at the level reached in the mid-1990s, although a slight increase occurred between 1995 and 2000 that was not statistically significant. The annual report on cancer statistics is a collaborative effort of the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Cancer Institute, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries. The 2003 report includes incidence data from 34 statewide cancer registries that cover 68% of the US population, up from 55% in 2002. Mortality data came from state vital statistics offices consolidated by CDC's National Vital Statistics System. Each year, the report highlights the cancer statistics related to the four major cancers, which account for about 50% of the nation's cancer burden. Findings on gastrointestinal cancer indicate that death rates began declining for both whites and blacks in the 1970s, and in the mid-1980s the decrease accelerated. However, white men and women continued to show a greater decrease in mortality than black men and women. Incidence rates have remained stable since 1996 for all men and women. From 1995 through 2000, there were declines-for both sexes and all ages and races-in the incidence of cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx (dropped by 9.3%) pancreas (dropped 4.1%), and stomach (dropped 3.4%). Both incidence and mortality rates varied considerably among racial and ethnic groups. While most cancers showed a drop in mortality, the mortality rate for pancreatic cancer rose 7.3%.

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