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Reduction in Cancer Mortality Not Evenly Distributed

Substantial decreases in overall U.S. cancer rates between 1990 and 2007

FRIDAY, June 17 (HealthDay News) -- There has been a steady decline in overall cancer death rates in the United States from 1990 to 2007, but this decline has not affected all segments of the population, according to the American Cancer Society Cancer Statistics 2011 report published online June 17 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

Researchers from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta compiled the most recent data on cancer incidence and mortality. In addition, they estimated the number of new cancer cases and deaths in the United States for 2011. A special section was devoted to cancer disparities and premature deaths.

The researchers estimated that in 2011, 1,596,670 new cancer cases will be diagnosed and 571,950 Americans will die of cancer. Overall, U.S. cancer death rates decreased by about 22 percent in men and 14 percent in women, resulting in the avoidance of 898,000 cancer deaths from 1990 to 2007. However, this decrease has not benefitted all sectors of society. Disparities predominantly arise from inequalities in work, wealth, income, education, housing, and overall standard of living, as well as access to prevention, early detection, and treatment services. Individuals with a lower level of educational attainment have a higher cancer burden for all cancers and for each of the four major cancers (lung, colorectal, prostate, and breast). If all segments of the U.S. population had the same cancer death rates as the most educated whites, 37 percent of the 164,000 deaths in those aged 25 to 64 years could have been prevented.

"In principle, equal application of existing knowledge about cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment to all segments of the population can substantially reduce and ultimately eliminate cancer disparities," the authors write.

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