Statistically Significant Decline in Lung Cancer Incidence and Death Rates among Women


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More than a decade after lung cancer incidence and death rates began to decline in men, a statistically significant decrease in the rates are occurring among women. The Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975 to 2007, is the first to document these decreases, the report’s authors noted. Published as a special article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the report is a collaborative effort of the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries.

“The decrease in lung cancer rates in women that we are seeing now reflects the later uptake of cigarette smoking among women,” according to the report and “can be expected to continue for at least two decades as women in the older generations with higher lung cancer risk are replaced by the subsequent younger generations with lower risk. But trends may be interrupted as women born around 1960, who have higher lung cancer and smoking rates, enter the high-risk age groups.” Cancers of the lung and bronchus are the number one cause of cancer deaths among men and women.

Overall cancer incidence rates decreased by approximately 1% per year. This decrease was statistically significant (P < .05) in women, but not in men, because of a recent increase in prostate cancer incidence. Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men and the second leading cause of cancer deaths. In women, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths.

Cancer death rates continued to decline for both sexes. While childhood cancer incidence rates continued to increase, the death rates continued to decrease.

This year’s report also includes an assessment of central nervous system tumors, including nonmalignant brain tumors, which began being reported nationally in 2004. From then through 2007, more than 213,500 primary brain and other nervous system tumors were diagnosed, and 35.8% were malignant.

Kohler BA, et al: J Natl Cancer Inst 103:714-736, 2011.


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