Medicine

Cancer Takes a Holiday

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The number of U.S. cancer deaths has decreased significantly for the second year in a row in 2004. The American Cancer Society reported 553,888 cancer deaths in 2004, 3,014 fewer than in 2003. There were 369 fewer deaths in 2003 than in 2002, which was notable as the first recorded drop in cancer deaths in more than 70 years.

Doctors say that the 2003 number is so small that it can't be hailed as a milestone in cancer treatment. The 2004 drop is tremendously significant though….

The recorded drops in deaths came from three of the four major forms of cancer — breast, prostate and colorectal — and a decline in deaths among men from the fourth, lung cancer.

This comes as a result of several factors: a decline in cigarette smoking among men, wider screening of men and women for colon cancer, prostate and breast cancer, and better treatments, according to Jemal and others….

The rate of cancer deaths—the number of deaths per 100,000 people—has been dropping for more than a decade. But with the population steadily aging, the total number of cancer deaths kept climbing.

More here.

Back in 2001, Reason's Ronald Bailey asked the question, "What Cancer Epidemic?"