Among the general population, the report shows that long-term declines in cancer death rates continued through 2004 for both sexes and, despite overall higher death rates for men, the declines from 2002 through 2004 were 2.6 percent per year among men and 1.8 percent per year among women. Death rates decreased for the majority of the top 15 cancers in men and women.

Important declines were noted for the three leading causes of cancer deaths in men: lung, prostate and colorectal cancers. In women, deaths rates from colorectal cancer and breast cancer decreased, while the rate of increase for lung cancer deaths slowed substantially.

Overall cancer incidence rates (the rates at which new cancers are diagnosed) for both sexes and all races combined declined slightly from 1992 through 2004. Incidence rates for female breast cancer dropped substantially from 2001 through 2004. This drop is possibly related to declining use of hormone replacement therapy as well as the recently reported decline in use of screening mammography.

Also, lung cancer incidence rates in women stabilized from 1998 through 2004 after long term increases, and in men the rate declined 1.8 percent per year from the period 1991 through 2004. Colorectal cancer incidence rates decreased by more than 2.0 percent per year for men and women, likely due to prevention through the removal of precancerous polyps.

“The significant decline in cancer death rates demonstrates important progress in the fight against cancer that has been achieved through effective tobacco control, screening, early detection, and appropriate treatment," said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director, Julie L. Gerberding, M.D. “As a nation, we must commit to continuing and enhancing these important public health efforts.”; Source: National Cancer Institute