NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

U.S. Cancer Death Rate Falls

June 13, 2001

Death rates due to the top 10 cancers decreased between 1992 and 1998, with the exception of those cancers attributable to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and of female lung cancer. That is one of the conclusions of the annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer from the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Overall rates of new cancer cases also dropped, with the exception of trends for increases in melanoma and female breast cancer.

Based on data collected by registries in the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program and the CDC's National Program of Cancer Registries, researchers report:

  • Overall cancer death rates in the U.S. declined by 1.1 percent between 1992 and 1998.
  • However, the reduction in mortality among women was only half of that observed in men -- 0.8 percent compared to 1.6 percent for males.
  • Furthermore, while new cancer cases among men declined 3 percent per year over the same period, the rate of new cancer cases in women actually increased by 0.3 percent.

Researchers say the increase in cases among women is likely due to increased mammography screening among middle-aged women, rather than an actual increase in the number of persons with the disease. Breast cancer mortality has dropped; from 1989 through 1995 the death rate declined 1.6 percent annually, and from 1995 through 1998 it declined 3.4 percent annually.

Source: News release, "Annual Report Shows Overall Decline in U.S. Cancer Incidence and Death Rates; Feature Focuses on Cancers with Recent Increasing Trends," National Cancer Institute, June 5, 2001; based on Holly L. Howe, et al., "Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer (1973 Through 1998), Featuring Cancers With Recent Increasing Trends," Special Article, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, June 6, 2001.


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