Cancer Death Rate Is Going Down, But Actual Number of Cancer Deaths Is Rising

cancer patients

The risk that any one American will die from cancer — the cancer death rate — is going down, regardless of sex or race, a new government study reports.

However, because the United States has a growing aging population, the overall number of people dying from cancer is on the rise, officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

“While we are making progress in reducing cancer death rates, we still have real work to do to reduce cancer deaths among our aging population,” said lead researcher Mary White, a scientist in the CDC’s division of cancer prevention and control.

Between 2007 and 2020, cancer deaths are expected to rise more than 10 percent among men and black women, the report found. Among white women, the number of cancer deaths will start to stabilize, increasing less than 5 percent during this period, according to the CDC researchers.

“Further declines in cancer deaths might be achieved if we can reach other national targets for addressing risk factors,” White said.

These include cutting exposure to tobacco and UV radiation, increasing cancer screening for early detection, and improving access to health care to increase early treatment and survival, she said.

White said that a decline in cancer death rates — even as the actual number of cancer deaths rises — is not a paradox.

“Death rates are calculated by dividing the number of cancer deaths by the number of people in the population,” she explained.

The number of older adults continues to grow, White explained. “Because death rates for many cancers increase with age, the number of people who die from cancer is also predicted to grow, even while death rates decline,” she said.

Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Conn., agreed that reducing cancer deaths and reducing cancer are not the same.

“Cancer death rates are declining markedly, which is excellent news and testimony to the power of early detection and improving treatments,” said Katz, who was not involved with the study.

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SOURCE: WebMD News from HealthDay
Steven Reinberg

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