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U.S. Cancer Death Rates Falling Faster, Report Indicates

Major update from cancer-tracking agencies provides special look at cancer in American Indians and Alaska Natives

THURSDAY, Oct. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Between 2002 and 2004, the national mortality rate from cancers fell at an accelerated pace compared to the previous nine years, according to an annual report published in the Nov. 15 issue of the journal Cancer.

David K. Espey, M.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and collaborators from other cancer-surveillance organizations, offer an overview of cancer incidence and mortality rates, with a special emphasis on statistics for American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN).

Cancer mortality rates fell 2.1 percent per year between 2002 and 2004, nearly double the decrease seen during the previous decade. Promising trends in new cases include falling incidence rates for breast cancer in women -- the first decline in 20 years -- as well as declining incidence of colorectal cancer.

Rates for AI/AN were overall lower than for non-Hispanic whites from 1999 to 2005, but were higher for cancer of the stomach, liver, gallbladder, kidney and cervix. The authors report wide regional variations in cancer rates among these populations, possibly due to differences in screening rates and risk factors such as physical activity, obesity, and tobacco and alcohol use.

"Future progress in decreasing the cancer burden in AI/AN populations is necessary and achievable with implementation of comprehensive cancer control programs that provide direction and motivate and actively engage partners across the spectrum of cancer control advocates, health care providers, policymakers, tribal leaders and funding agencies," the authors write.

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