HealthDay News — Overall rates of cancer and cancer mortality in the United States continue to decline, according to the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, a yearly report issued by the American Cancer Society, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries. The report was published online March 9 in Cancer.

Between 2003 and 2012, the overall mortality rate for all cancers fell 1.5% a year. There were decreases in cancer deaths for both men and women, and among all major racial and ethnic groups. During that time, rates of new cancer cases fell among men and remained stable for women. The drop in new cancer cases is largely due to progress in prevention and early detection, and the decrease in cancer mortality may also be due to improved treatments, the authors of the report suggest. Tobacco control programs have contributed to lower rates of lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, along with other types of cancer.

While the overall news is good, liver cancer incidence and mortality rates rose sharply compared to other cancer types. Between 2008 and 2012, liver cancer cases rose an average of just over 2% a year, the findings showed. Liver cancer mortality increased nearly 3% a year among men and more than 3% a year among women during the same time. In all racial and ethnic groups, about twice as many men as women were diagnosed with liver cancer. Between 2008 and 2012, liver cancer rates were highest among American Indian/Alaska Native men and Asian/Pacific Islander men. In addition, the findings showed that people born between 1945 and 1965 had the highest rates of hepatitis C and liver cancer-associated deaths.

“The latest data show many cancer prevention programs are working and saving lives,” CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said in a news release from the organizations that issued the report. “But the growing burden of liver cancer is troublesome. We need to do more work promoting hepatitis testing, treatment, and vaccination.”

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