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In 2008, cancers of the female breast, prostate, lung, and colon/rectum accounted for more than one-half of all cancer deaths in the United States. Lung cancer alone claimed 28 percent of the lives lost to cancer. According to American Cancer Society projections, in 2010 there were 569,490 cancer deaths overall, including 157,300 deaths from lung cancer; 51,370 from cancers of the colon/rectum; 39,840 from female breast cancer; 36,800 deaths from cancer of the pancreas; and 32,050 from prostatecancer. Cancer mortality is usually measured as the annual number of deaths from cancer for every 100,000 people, adjusted to a standard population.
The number of cancer deaths per 100,000 people per year, age-adjusted to a U.S. 2000 standard population.
All sites combined: After steady increases in death rates among both sexes combined from 1975 to 1991, the U.S. cancer death rate stabilized from 1991 to 1994 and significantly declined from 1994 to 1998 with a non-significant decline from 1998 to 2001, followed by falling death rates from 2001 to 2008. Among men, death rates increased through 1990, were stable from 1990 to 1993, and fell thereafter. Among women, death rates increased from 1975 to 1991 and fell from 1991 to 2008.
Colorectal cancer: Death rates among women fell from 1975 to 2008. Among men, rates fell from 1984 to 2008.
Female breast cancer: After rising from 1975 to 1990, death rates have steadily fallen.
Lung cancer: Death rates among men rose from 1975 to 1990, with non-significant change from 1990 to 1993 and falling rates from 1993 to 2008. Death rates among women rose from 1975 to 2003 and fell from 2003 to 2008.
Prostate cancer: After increasing from 1975 to 1991, prostate cancer death rates fell from 1994 to 2008.
Uterine cervix: Death rates fell from 1975 to 2003, followed by a period of non-significant change from 2003 to 2008.
Oral cavity and pharynx: Death rates were stable from 1975 to 1979, followed by a period of falling rates from 1979 to 2008.
Melanoma of the skin: Death rates rose from 1975 to 1989 and were stable thereafter.
In 2008, the death rate for all cancers was 175.67 per 100,000 people, the death rate for lung cancer was 49.6 per 100,000 people, the death rate for prostate cancer was 23.0 deaths per 100,000 people per year, the death rate for female breast cancer was 22.5 per 100,000 people, and the death rate for colorectal cancer was16.4 per 100,000 people. In 2008, the death rate for melanoma was 2.7 per 100,000 people, with 2.5 oropharyngeal cancer deaths and 2.4 uterine cervical cancer deaths per 100,000 people.
Reduce the overall cancer death rate to 160.6 cancer deaths per 100,000 people per year by 2020.
Reduce the lung cancer death rate to 45.5 deaths per 100,000 people per year by 2020.
Reduce the prostate cancer death rate per 100,000 to 23.5 deaths per 100,000 people per year by 2020.
Reduce the female breast cancer death rate per 100,000 deaths to 22.9 deaths per 100,000 people per year by 2020.
Reduce the colorectal death rate per 100,000 to 14.5 deaths per 100,000 people per year by 2020.
Reduce the melanoma death rate per 100,000 to 2.4 deaths per 100,000 people per year by 2020.
Reduce the oropharyngeal cancer death rate per 100,000 to 2.5 deaths per 100,000 people per year by 2020.
Reduce the uterine cervix death rate per 100,000 deaths to 2.4 deaths per 100,000 people per year by 2020.
Blacks experience the highest cancer death rates, followed by whites, who also have cancer death rates that exceed the Healthy People 2020 objective of 160.6 deaths or less per 100,000 people per year. In 2008, cancer death rates among Asian and Pacific Islanders, American Indians and Alaska Natives, and persons of Hispanic ethnicity were lower than the Healthy People 2010 objective.
Studies have shown that persons self-reported as American Indian, Asian, or Hispanic on census and survey records may sometimes be reported as white or non-Hispanic on the death certificate, resulting in an underestimation of deaths and death rates for these groups. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_02/sr02_148.pdf.
Mortality rates are currently increasing for only a few cancer sites. These cancer sites include the pancreas, liver and intrahepatic bile duct, and corpus and unspecified uterus.
As indicated in Figure EMO2, mortality rates are decreasing for the leading causes of new cancer cases: lung cancer in men and women, prostate cancer, female breast cancer, and colorectal cancer in both males and females. Among these leading cancers, rates per 100,000 range from 63.6 (male lung cancer) to 13.8 6 (female colorectal cancer) deaths per year.
Mortality rates also are decreasing for other cancer sites. Figure EMO5 shows trends for the next six most common causes of cancer death with decreasing mortality trends (3 to 10 deaths per 100,000 people each year). These sites are leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, ovarian cancer, urinary bladder cancer, brain and other nervous system cancers, and stomach cancer.
Other Cancer Sites with Healthy People 2020 Mortality Rate Targets
In addition to Healthy People 2020 Targets to reduce mortality for cancer sites already mentioned in this report (lung, prostate, female breast, and the colon and rectum) Healthy People 2020 Mortality Rate Targets have been defined to reduce deaths from melanoma and cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx, and of the uterine cervix.
Although overall death rates are on the decline, cancer deaths for some sites are increasing, such as pancreas, liver and intrahepatic bile duct, and corpus and unspecified uterus.
An ongoing challenge for the United States is to find new and better ways to reduce and eliminate disparities in cancer death rates among different populations of Americans.