Cancer death rates drop
Doctors report reduction for first time this century
November 13, 1996
Web posted at: 11:20 p.m. EST
From Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen
ATLANTA -- (CNN) For the first time since doctors started keeping records in 1900, cancer deaths have declined -- a 3.1 percent drop from 1990 to 1995.
Experts cite these factors: fewer people are smoking, more women are getting mammograms, and chemotherapy and surgery are more effective than ever.
"For the first time we have this great news and people should be happy this has turned around," said Dr. Harmon Eyre of the American Cancer Society.
Experts credit anti-smoking campaigns with the drop, but the good news doesn't come without warning. Lung cancer rates in women over age 65 have actually increased 14.3 percent. Doctors said that's because in the 1970s, cigarette companies started to target women.
That effort has worked, and now lung cancer kills more women than breast cancer.
In the past 15 years, the average size of a breast cancer has shrunk from three to two centimeters, although these gains aren't shared by people who can't afford health insurance.
"People who have health insurance go to doctors, get screened, and find cancer early," said Eyre. "People who don't, find cancer later."
The next step is to improve access to health care and to get more smokers to quit. If that happens, the number of deaths from cancer could decrease more rapidly than ever before.
Special sections: CNN Interactive's extended coverage
Related sites: Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
© 1996 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.