Cancer Rate in First Decline

Good news: The rate of cancer in the United States is beginning its first decline since the government began compiling records, the result of better treatment and prevention. “The drop in incidence…is something we have been waiting to see for a long time,” Dr. Otis W. Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, told the Los Angeles Times. And “the continuing drop in mortality is evidence once again of real progress made against cancer, reflecting real gains in prevention, early detection and treatment.” Still, researchers warn the declines, 0.8 percent per year from 1999 through 2005 for men and women, could be temporary, as baby boomers reach the age at which cancer could develop, and the economic crisis could push smoking rates upward. Five of the six most common cancers— lung, colorectal, and prostate in men, and breast and colorectal cancer in women—declined, while the sixth, lung cancer in women, leveled off.