Cancer mortality rates have reached a new milestone in the United States—deaths from cancer have dropped 20% since their peak in 1991, according to the cancer statistics report published annually by the American Cancer Society.1

The new report, released online January 17, 2013, shows that cancer death rates decreased from their peak of 215.1 per 100,000 in 1991 to 173.1 per 100,000 in 2009.  The latest numbers come from the most recent data on cancer incidence, mortality, and survival based on incidence data from the National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The mortality data are derived from the National Center for Health Statistics.1,2

“Mortality rates continued to decrease for major cancers, such as cancers of the lung, colorectum, breast, and prostate,” said Jiemin Ma, PhD, Senior Epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society, Atlanta, GA in an interview with In fact, since 1991, the death rates have decreased by more than 30% for cancers of the colorectum, female breast, and male lung.  The death rates have dropped by more than 40% for prostate cancer.  Early detection and treatment have made significant differences for colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers.  Declines in lung cancer deaths specifically can be attributed, in large part, to reductions in smoking, according to the report.

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The new report projects 1,660,290 new cancer cases in 2013, and a total of 580,350 cancer deaths are expected this year.  Cancers of the prostate, lung and bronchus, and colorectum are expected to account for 50% of all newly diagnosed cancers in men in 2013; prostate cancer alone is expected to account for 28% (N=238,590) of incident cases this year.1,2  In women, the most commonly diagnosed types of cancer in 2013 are projected to be breast, lung and bronchus, as well as colorectum.  These tumor types are expected to account for nearly 50% of all cases, with breast cancer accounting for 29% (N=232,340) (Figure 1).1,2