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US Records Another Overall Drop in Cancer Death Rates

US Records Another Overall Drop in Cancer Death Rates

WASHINGTON—US cancer and AIDS mortality declined again in 1999, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The preliminary age-adjusted death rate fell 0.9% for cancer and 3.6% for HIV disease.

Cancer remained the second leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease, except in the 45- to 64-year-old age group where it ranked first. The AIDS decline followed 3 years in which mortality dropped more than 70%—declining 26% during 1996; 48% in 1997, and 21% in 1998.

"We’re paying very close attention to the trend in HIV mortality," said CDC director Jeffrey P. Koplan, MD, MPH. "Although HIV as a cause of death has dropped in rank in recent years, we must guard against complacency and continue to emphasize prevention as a key weapon in fighting this disease."

Cancer deaths totaled 549,787, or 23% of all US deaths in 1999, an age-adjusted rate of 202.6 per 100,000 population, according to the CDC report Deaths: Preliminary Data 1999 (available online at www.cdc.gov/nchs). Comparable deaths in 1998 were 546,947, for an adjusted rate of 204.4 per 100,000.

The new data are based on death records received and processed by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics as of Jan. 3, 2001, and represent more than 99% of all US deaths in 1999. The report incorporates significant methodological changes, including an updated age distribution for the US population for calculating age-adjusted death rates and the latest cause-of-death classification and coding system issued by the World Health Organization.

The crude death rate per 100,000 population rose to 877 in 1999 from 864.7 the previous year. Age-adjusted mortality per 100,000 increased 1% to 881.9 from 875.8 in 1998. The five leading causes of death in both 1998 and 1999 were heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory disease, and accidents.

The five cancer groups responsible for the most deaths in 1999 were trachea, bronchus, and lung (152,176 deaths); colon, rectum, and anus (57,152); lymphoid, hematopoietic, and related tissue (56,312); breast (41,524); and prostate (31,698). The five diseases held the same ranking in 1998. Age-adjusted death rates declined for all five between 1998 and 1999.

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