Deaths due to cancer for both men and women in the United States continued to decline between 2003 and 2007, according to the latest Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer. 

Overall rates of new cancer diagnoses for men and women combined decreased an average of slightly less than 1 percent per year for the same period. 

"Overall, the rate of cancer deaths is falling, but not by a lot, not nearly enough," said Edward J. Benz, Jr., MD, president of Dana-Farber Cancer in Institute in Boston. "But considering that the incidence of cancer continues to increase, while the number of deaths is flat or falling a little bit, it does suggest that efforts of prevention, early detection, and better treatments are having a positive impact." 

The report is co-authored by researchers from the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Cancer Society and will be published in May's Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The authors emphasize the need to focus further on reducing the cancer burden in the population as a whole through prevention, detection and treatment of cancer.

"One of the best ways to avoid dying of cancer is to prevent it in the first place," added Dr. Benz. "This involves making lifestyle adjustments, such as not smoking, being careful about exposure to the sun, diet and exercise, and being careful about exposure to chemicals in the workplace. Patients also need to be sure to participate with their primary care physician in the kinds of screening that can pick up cancers very early."

Risk factors are risk factors, to be sure, but 'preventing' cancer is the kind of problem term that 'curing' it got politicians wondering why hundreds of billions of dollars were spent with no progress.   Understanding risk factors, and limiting them, is important, but preventing cancer is impossible, as the fact that only 10% of smokers get any kind of cancer and 50% of lung cancer patients never smoked at all attests