UNDATED (KTHV) -- The latest statistics from the American Cancer Society finds a steady decline in the amount of people dying from cancer.
And now -- a key demographic group is also showing signs of decline in rates. For the first time ever, the lung cancer mortality rate in women is dropping.
The annual report finds overall cancer death rates, which have been dropping since the early 1990's, continued to decrease in all racial/ethnic groups in both men and women.
Dr. Nathan Pennell treats lung cancer patients at Cleveland Clinic.
"A lot of the more common cancers the rates have been falling, due to increases in early detection. That's something that I hope will accelerate in lung cancer as well because this year, for the first time we have evidence that screening for lung cancer is able to improve the rate of death from lung cancer," says Pennell.
The decrease in lung cancer mortality rates among women comes more than a decade later than the decline began in men.
The lag reflects a later uptake of cigarette smoking in women.
Female smoking peaked about 20 years later than in men.
Pennell says prevention remains to be the best way to keep the lung cancer rates from going back up. "Now it really takes aggressive measures on a public health scale to try to decrease smoking. Everyone knows it's bad for you, but it's still incredibly addictive and hard to get people to quit. And that message really has to be driven in because it works. It actually does prevent lung cancer to quit or to not smoke, or start smoking to begin with."