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Cancer Deaths Expected to Decrease in 2004 (dateline May 30, 2004)

The American Cancer Society estimates that fewer people will die from cancer in the year 2004. According to its Cancer Facts & Figures 2004 report, the organization predicts that less people will die from lung, colon, breast, and prostate cancers. However, cancer will remain the second leading cause of death in the United States, after heart disease. The decline in cancer deaths is most likely due to improvements in cancer screening and treatment strategies.

More than 1.3 million people are expected to be diagnosed with some form of cancer in 2004, and approximately 563,700 people are expected to die from cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society.

Lung cancer is expected to remain the leading cause of cancer-related death in 2004. Approximately 173,770 new cases of lung cancer and 160,440 deaths are expected in 2004. An alterable risk factor—smoking—is expected to cause a whopping 87% of deaths from lung cancer this year. Nevertheless, reductions in smoking in the U.S. have led to a decrease in the death rate of lung cancer in recent years. Since the early 1990s, the American Cancer Society reports a 2% reduction in lung cancer deaths each year as a result of smoking cessation (mostly among men).

Decreased death rates from breast cancer are attributed to better screening and improved treatment strategies. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2004, 215,990 women in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and 59,390 women will be diagnosed with in situ breast cancer (an early form of the disease). Approximately 40,110 of these women will die from the disease this year. Breast cancer will remain the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, after skin cancer. There are over two million women living in the U.S. who have been treated for breast cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that 97% of women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer survive at least five years.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among men, after skin cancer, and the American Cancer Society estimates that diagnoses will continue to increase. This is most likely due to increased prostate cancer screening with the PSA test. The organization estimates that approximately 230,110 new cases of prostate cancer, and 29,900 deaths, are expected in 2004.

Colon cancer will remain the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Approximately 146,940 new cases of colon cancer and 56,730 deaths are expected in 2004, according to the American Cancer Society. More widespread screening for colon cancer in recent years has reduced the number of diagnoses. However, fewer than half of eligible screening candidates for colon cancer undergo screening.

Poverty and limited access to health insurance will continue to affect the number of people who receive recommended cancer screenings, according to the American Cancer Society. In general, the early cancer is diagnosed, the greater the chances that it can be treated successfully.

Additional Resources and References

  • The report, Cancer Facts & Figures 2004, published by the American Cancer Society, is available online at