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Are We Winning War on Cancer? Death Risk Down 20 Percent

Jan 26th 2014 at 10:31 PM

The risk of dying from cancer has declined 20 percent over the past two decades, according to the American Cancer Society's annual report out Tuesday.

However, cancer, a complex disease that has largely eluded attempts at a cure, will remain a top killer in 2014, taking some 1,600 US lives per day, it warned.

The group's yearly report is based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute and the National Center for Health Statistics.

The most common cancers for women are breast, lung and colon cancer, while in men they are prostate, lung and colon cancer, it said.

Breast cancer is expected to account for 29 percent of new cancers in women.

Lung cancer remains the most lethal, and is responsible for one in four cancer deaths among men and women combined.

The report predicts there will be 1,665,540 new cancer cases and 585,720 cancer deaths in the United States in 2014.

Over the past 20 years, cancer death rates have continually declined, avoiding more than 1.3 million deaths from 1991 to 2010.

The gains have been wider among men (952,700 lives saved) than women (387,700) over that time span.

Women are still getting cancer at about the same rate, at least over the past five years for which data are available (2006-2010), while in men cancer incidence has declined 0.6 percent per year.

Cancer death rates have fallen 1.8 percent per year in men and 1.4 percent in women over that five-year span.

The greatest success against cancer has been seen in African-American men aged 40 to 49, with a 55 percent decline in cancer death rates from 1991 to 2010.

"The halving of the risk of cancer death among middle aged black men in just two decades is extraordinary, but it is immediately tempered by the knowledge that death rates are still higher among black men than white men for nearly every major cancer and for all cancers combined," said John Seffrin, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society.

"The progress we are seeing is good, even remarkable, but we can and must do even better."

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