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Cancer death rates continue to fall

Cancer cases and cancer deaths are dropping in many corners of the United States, according to statistics released Wednesday by the American Cancer Society.

Since 1999, cancer death rates have declined in both men and women and among all racial and ethnic groups with the exception of American Indians and Alaskan Natives. But cancer rates have stabilized in those two groups.

The biggest drops in death rates were seen among African American and Latino men, with declines of 2.4% and 2.3% per year, respectively. Still, black men have a 15% higher cancer incidence and 33% higher death rate compared with white men. Black women have a 6% lower cancer incidence rate compared with white women but have a 16% higher death rate.

Lung cancer is responsible for the largest drop in death rates for men while breast cancer deaths have declined the most among women. Cancers that are on the rise include tumors of the pancreas, liver, thyroid and kidneys as well as melanoma of the skin. In addition, oropharyngeal cancers, which are linked to human papillomavirus infection, are on the rise. Obesity may explain the increase in pancreas, liver and kidney cancers.

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This year, the cancer society projects 1,638,910 cancer cases will be diagnosed and 577,190 Americans will die of the disease.

The full report is available online.

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