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Cancer Deaths Decreasing In The U.S., Report Finds

Since the rate of cancer deaths in the United States reached its peak in 1991, fatalities attributed to the disease have decreased 20 percent, according to a large new study from the American Cancer Society.

The Cancer Statistics report, published in the CA Cancer Journal for Clinicians, compares cancer mortality rates over the years with data from the most recent year available, 2009. It shows that there were 215.1 cancer deaths for every 100,000 people in 1991, but that number fell to 173.1 cancer deaths for every 100,000 people in 2009.

The results are "a milestone that shows we truly are creating more birthdays," American Cancer Society CEO John R. Seffrin, Ph.D., said in a statement. "But we must also recognize that not all demographic groups have benefitted equally from these gains, particularly those diagnosed with colorectal or breast cancer, where earlier detection and better treatments are credited for the improving trends."

Among the other findings of the report:

- This year, there are expected to be 580,350 deaths from cancer and 1,660,290 new cases of cancer.

- Prostate cancer is projected to be the most common cancer for men this year, accounting for 28 percent of new cases. Cancers of the lungs, bronchus and colorectum will also be common in men.

- Breast cancer is expected to account for 29 percent of new cancers among women this year.

- Even though new cases of cancer are decreasing for most parts of the body, they are increasing for the pancreas, thyroid, skin (melanoma) and liver for both men and women.