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U.S. Lung Cancer Rates Vary Greatly

Update Date: Aug 11, 2014 09:17 AM EDT

According to a new study, the United States' lung cancer rates have been falling over the past few years. Despite the declines in the numbers, the researchers discovered new trends that have never been recognized before. The team reported that lung cancer rates vary throughout the nation based on sex, race/ethnicity, age and cancer subtype.

For this study the researchers headed by Denise Riedel Lewis, PhD, MPH, of the National Cancer Institute wanted to update information regarding the rates of lung cancers overall and the rates based on subtype, which included squamous cell, small cell, adenocarcinoma, large cell, other, and unspecified carcinomas.

The team examined data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program. The data involved white and African-American lung cancer patients diagnosed between 1977 and 2010, and white non-Hispanics, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and white Hispanics lung cancer patients diagnosed from 1992 to 2010.

The researchers reported that since the 1990s, the rates for squamous and small cell carcinoma have fallen overall in all racial/ethnic/gender groups but more rapidly for males than females. Adenocarcinoma rates fell for male patients until 2005. From 2006 to 2010, the rates for every racial/ethnic/gender group increased. The rates for unspecified lung cancer declined overall. The researchers believe that identifying these trends can help experts devise the best preventive methods for each group.

"It is important to monitor these changes as clinical cancer experts diagnose lung cancer and offer treatment based on specific characteristics of the cancer," said Dr. Lewis according to the press release. "These results can serve as a place marker for our population's changing lung exposures."

The study, "U.S. lung cancer trends by histologic type," was published in the journal, Cancer.

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