WASHINGTON – American women have come a long way, and at last that includes the fact that they, like men, are finally dying less often from lung cancer.
More than a decade after the death rate from lung cancer among men started falling, the pace at which women are succumbing to the malignancy peaked in 2002 and dropped almost about 1 percent a year through at least 2007, researchers reported Thursday.
The milestone had been expected for years as the wave of smoking-related illness that arose after women began lighting up in large numbers finally ebbed after they began kicking the habit.
They took it up a little later so their increase has had a slow rise and now its finally starting to turn around, said Brenda Edwards of the National Cancer Institute.
The National Cancer Institute documented the decline Thursday in the latest analysis of the nations war on cancer, conducted annually with the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the North American Association of Cancer Registries.
Lung cancer deaths in women are now showing a statistically significant decline. Its the first time, Edwards said.
In addition to the turnaround in lung cancer deaths among women, the rates at which Americans are being diagnosed and are dying from many leading cancers continued falling, according to a paper published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
This is good news, and maybe the country can use a little good news about now, said David Cutler, an economist who studies tobacco at Harvard University.
Overall, the rates at which cancer is being diagnosed – the incidence – fell for all racial and ethnic groups and both sexes between 2003 and 2007, the period covered by the report.
The declines were driven by drops in major tumors such as lung and colorectal cancer in men and lung, breast and colorectal in women.
Experts attributed the decline to a combination of factors, including most prominently the decline in smoking.