Health Team

NIH reports decline in cancer, cancer deaths

Posted December 7, 2009 5:30 p.m. EST
Updated December 7, 2009 7:20 p.m. EST

— The National Institutes of Health has reported an overall decline in the incidence of some of the major cancers and in cancer deaths.

Scientists credit better screening, better lifestyle choices and improved treatments. Some of the report’s highlights include:

  • From 1999 to 2006, incidence rates for all cancers combined, for both sexes and all populations, declined .7 percent.
  • Death rates decreased, on average, 1.6 percent per year from 2001 to 2006.
  • For colorectal cancer, from 1998 to 2006, there was a significant decline in incidence in both men and women ages 65 and older.

However, colorectal cancer is increasing among people younger than 50 years of age, which is interesting because age 50 is when it's recommended that most people begin colorectal cancer screening.

The report featured trends on colorectal cancer, which ranked as the third most-frequent cancer across all U.S. populations. But a few groups stand out for having a higher incidence rate: black women, Hispanic men and women and two other groups, Asians and Pacific Islanders.

The report includes the use of statistical modeling for projecting trends in colorectal cancer. The researchers said they believe with even more people quitting smoking and getting recommended screening, cancer deaths could be cut in half in the next 11 years.