"You've come a long way, baby," read the old Virginia Slims ads. But now American woman are making another advance—fewer of them are dying of lung cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute's latest report on cancer in America. The steady decline from a 2002 peak in female lung cancer deaths is the first drop in four decades, and it comes more than a decade after the lung cancer death rate among men began to fall.
Women took up smoking "a little later, so their increase has had a slow rise and now it’s finally starting to turn around,” an institute spokeswoman says. Overall, the institute's report shows cancer rates and deaths on the decline for 10 of the top 15 cancers in men and 11 of the top 15 in women. However, death rates for liver cancer and skin melanomas in men and liver and pancreatic cancers in woman continued to increase. “It’s not all rosy,” said a professor of biostatistics at the University of Texas tells the Washington Post. “Too many battles against this disease are lost for us to toast the few wins." (Read more cancer stories.)