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SEER Data Analysis Confirms Fall in Cancer Mortality

SEER Data Analysis Confirms Fall in Cancer Mortality

WASHINGTON--An analysis from the National Cancer Institute, drawing on data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program (SEER) and from the National Center for Health Statistics, has found a 5-year decline of 2.6% in overall cancer mortality (see chart on page 1).

The NCI report, scheduled for publication in early January, 1997, supports recent findings from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) (see article on page 1), showing a 5-year decline of 3.1%.

Noting the difference between the NCI and UAB estimates, Richard Klausner, MD, NCI director, said that the exact numbers are not as important as the fact that both analyses showed a significant and sustained fall in cancer mortality.

Among the findings of the NCI study:

The cancer mortality rates dropped more in males, who have the higher incidence, than in females. Overall cancer mortality went down 4.3% in men during the 5-year span, with a decline of 8.7% in men under age 65 and a drop of 2.1% in those that age and above. Women had a fall of 1.1%, but mortality rate dropped 6.5% in those under age 65 while rising 2.9% in women age 65 and older.

  • The largest mortality reductions occurred among blacks, with an overall decline of 5.6%, compared with an 18.3% jump between 1971 and 1990. Black men saw a drop of 8.1%; the rate declined 2.5% in black women. Among whites, the decline was 3.6% for men and 0.2% for women.
  • Breast cancer dropped 6.3%; the decline was 9.3% in women under age 65 and 2.5% in women that age and above.
  • Lung cancer dropped 6.7% in men; 13.8% for those under age 65. In women, the toll dropped 4% in those under age 65, but rose a sharp 14.3% in women 65 and older.
  • Prostate cancer mortality declined 6.3%; the fall was 7.4% in men under age 75 and 3.8% in men 75 or more. White men had a greater drop than black men.
  • The cervical cancer death rate fell 9.7%.
  • Ovarian cancer mortality dropped 4.8%, nearly all of the decline occurring in women under age 65.

"What we report today is not cause for complacency, but just the opposite," Dr. Klausner said. "It is a demand for increased commitment."

He noted that death from some cancers rose significantly during the period, even as overall mortality dropped. Lymphatic cancers in men (Hodgkin's disease, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and multiple myeloma) increased 4.1%. The NCI also found increases in brain cancers and kidney malignancies.

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