Cancer death rates in the United States, including those for lung cancer, continue to decline, according to the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer.

“The sustained fall in death rates for most cancers is an important indicator of our success in controlling this large set of complex diseases, but is not as fast as we’d like,” said Dr Harold Varmus, MD, director of the National Cancer Institute. “In addition, the report emphasizes the need to consider the entire health status of cancer patients since many have other significant medical conditions that may affect their survival.”

The authors credit the recent larger drop in lung cancer deaths to the decreased prevalence of cigarette smoking over many years. According to the report, the lung cancer death rate decline, as well as declines in colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer death rates, also helped drive decreases in death rates for all cancers types combined, a trend that began about 20 years ago.

The Report, produced annually since 1998, is co-authored by researchers from the NCI, which is part of the National Institutes of Health; the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries.