WASHINGTON (AP) â€” Progress is being made in the war against cancer with fewer Americans getting or dying from the disease, in part because of reduced smoking and early detection, according to a new study.
Researchers found that the incidence rate â€” the number of new cancer cases per 100,000 people per year â€” for all cancers combined declined on average 0.8 percent per year between 1990 and 1997.
``These findings underscore the remarkable progress we've made against cancer,'' Dr. Richard Klausner, the director of the National Cancer Institute, said in a statement.
The study was released Sunday by the NCI, the American Cancer Society, the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The drop is attributed by officials to progress in prevention, early detection and treatment and reduced smoking.
The greatest decline in cancer incidence rates has been among men, who have higher overall rates of cancer than women.
Four cancer sites â€” lung, prostate, breast and colon and rectum â€” accounted for over half of all new cancer cases and were also the leading causes of cancer deaths. The study found that rates are going down for prostate cancer.
The rate of breast cancer changed little in the 1990s, but breast cancer death rates have declined about 2 percent each year since 1990 and have dropped sharply since 1995.
Lung cancer rates increased from 1973 until 1991, but have since declined. The death rates from lung cancer continues to increase for women but has been declining for men since 1990, the study said.
The study said colon and rectum cancer is the third most common but one of the most treatable forms of the disease, if detected early. When colorectal cancer was found in its earliest stages the survival rate was 96 percent. However, when detected in the late stage the survival rate falls to only 5 percent.
``The findings of this report underscore the need to improve rates of colorectal cancer screening. This is one cancer where screening clearly has benefits by saving lives,'' said Dr. James Marks, the head of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
About 1.2 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year and 560,000 will die of the disease, according to the report.
On the Net: National Cancer Institute: http://www.cancer.gov
American Cancer Society: http://www.cancer.org
CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs