Encouraging dip in rate of new cancers, deaths

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The rate of new cancer cases appears to be inching down at last.

An annual cancer report finds the rate of new diagnoses among men dropped by 1.8 percent a year between 2001 and 2005. For women, the decrease was just over half a percent a year.

Death rates from cancer have been dropping slowly for years, thanks to earlier detection and better treatments. But cancer prevention has been the ultimate goal.

The improvements reflect gains against some leading cancers -- including prostate, colorectal and breast cancer. But other types are still on the rise, including melanoma and kidney cancer.

Despite the apparent good news in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, experts wonder if the positive trends can survive the bad economy. For example, the report credits a drop in colorectal cancer to a big increase in colonoscopies -- which generally aren't done unless patience have insurance that will pay for it.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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