Cancer death decline confirms trend

Jackie Valley

Cancer is still the leading cause of death among people younger than 85, but there is a glimmer of hope — cancer deaths in the United States have declined for the second straight year.

The number of cancer deaths in the United States dropped by 3,014 in 2004, according to an American Cancer Society report.

The decline confirmed researchers’ hope that the small drop in cancer deaths in 2003 — just 369 deaths — was more than just a fluke, said Al Stabilito, public relations director of Northeast Ohio for the American Cancer Society.

Stabilito said the cancer death rate in the United States has been falling for the past 10 years, but in the past two years, the actual number of cancer deaths has dropped as well. The decline has now outpaced aging and other population growth factors.

He said three main factors contributed to the decline:

– Advances in treatment options made by cancer researchers

– Increase in early cancer detection

– Cancer prevention by healthier lifestyles

Even so, Stabilito said the decline is not an opportunity to cut cancer funding or indulge in unhealthy choices.

“People should still take it seriously because if we have a decrease in cancer funding, any strides we made will be reversed,” he said. “As long as we have funding, research and prevention programs, there should continue to be a decline in cancer deaths.”

Junior accounting major Darren D’Altorio thinks the decline in cancer deaths mirrors the recent health-conscience attitude of the American people.

“I think people are leading more European lifestyles — more moderation, less excess,” he said. “Everything in America is done in excess, but I think we are adopting new social norms.”

Despite the decline, cancer is still a force to be reckoned with in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that 559,650 people will die from cancer and 1,444,920 new cancer cases will be diagnosed in 2007.

Contact general assignment reporter Jackie Valley at [email protected].