American Cancer Society statistics found death rates from 1991 to 2010 declined more than 50 percent among black men ages 40-49, more than in any other group. Even so, black men continue to have the highest cancer death rates among all ethnic groups in the United States, while Asian-Americans have the lowest rates.
Lung, colon, prostate, and breast cancers continue to be the most common causes of cancer death, accounting for almost half of the total cancer deaths among men and women. More than 1-of-4 cancer deaths is due to lung cancer.
New colon cancer cases have dropped by more than 4 percent per year from 2008 to 2010. This progress has been attributed in part to more people having colonoscopies, which can prevent cancer through the removal of pre-cancerous growths, or polyps.
Lung cancer incidence rates began declining in the mid-1980s in men and in the late 1990s in women. The differences reflect historical patterns in tobacco use, where women began smoking in large numbers about 20 years later than men, the article said.
"The progress we are seeing is good, even remarkable, but we can and must do even better," John R. Seffrin, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society, said in a statement. "The halving of the risk of cancer death among middle age black men in just two decades is extraordinary, but it is immediately tempered by the knowledge that death rates are still higher among black men than white men for nearly every major cancer and for all cancers combined."
The findings, Cancer Facts & Figures, published in the American Cancer Society's journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.