Cancer death rates are falling faster than ever thanks to successful screening and improved treatments, according to expert analysis of the latest statistics. The death rate dropped an average of 2.1% a year between 2002 and 2004, nearly twice the 1.1% average drop between 1993 and 2001, according to the annual "Report to the Nation" compiled by several cancer organizations.
Experts point to progress against colorectal cancer as a main reason for the improvement. Colorectal cancer is the No. 2 cancer killer, but its death rates have dropped the most —4.5% in women and 5% in men. More people are screened and have precancerous polyps removed, and a variety of new drugs have doubled victims’ survival times. Still, experts caution, only half of those over 50 get the necessary screening. (Read more cancer stories.)