Fewer U.S. women dying of lung cancer: study

Fri Apr 1, 2011 1:57pm EDT
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By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters Life!) - Lung cancer death rates among women in the United States fell for the first time in four decades, trailing a similar decline in men that started a decade ago, U.S. cancer experts said on Thursday.

The lag reflects smoking trends among women, whose rate of smoking peaked later in the last century than U.S. men, according to an annual report on cancer by the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society and others.

"I think it's about time," Dr. Edward Kim of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, who was not involved with the report, said in a telephone interview.

"When you look at the data, for years the biggest concern has always been the mortality rate for women with lung cancer. That number had just kept steadily increasing," Kim said.

"I think it is a reflection that finally we are beginning to make a bit of headway," Kim said.

Lung cancer deaths among women fell about 1 percent per year between 2003 and 2007, reflecting an overall continued decline in cancer rates and deaths, a trend that began in early 1990s as early detection and better prevention and treatments have helped more people survive their cancers.

"The observed decreases in overall cancer incidence and death in nearly all racial and ethnic groups are highly encouraging," researchers wrote in the report, which was also conducted by the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New cancer diagnoses among both men and women fell about 1 percent a year between 2003 and 2007, and death rates fell an average 1.6 percent a year during the same period.   Continued...