The American Cancer Society (ACS) reported that cancer deaths fell for the second straight year, suggesting better detection and treatment methods are paying off.
ACS reported a drop of 3,014 cancer deaths from 2003 to 2004, the most recent year for which figures are available. That number is larger than the 369 fewer deaths recorded from 2002 to 2003, the first drop in the actual number of cancer deaths since nationwide data began to be compiled more that 70 years ago.
ACS CEO John Seffrin said the continued decline shows that the small decrease in last year's survey was no statistical fluke but instead a trend that may improve as fewer people smoke and more get early cancer screenings.
Cancer is the second-leading cause of deaths among Americans behind heart disease, government figures show. In 2004, there were 553,888 deaths from cancer, compared to 556,902 in 2003.
Deaths form colon cancer showed the largest decline in 2004. There were also drops in deaths from breast cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer in men. Lung cancer deaths in women rose slightly, by 347 cases, according to ACS.