Oncology massage is a growing specialty, with hospitals and therapists in private practice offering healthy touch to ease the anxiety and pain oftentimes attendant with cancer. A new report shows the number of Americans living with cancer continues to grow, as deaths from cancer decline.

Although younger people have experienced the steepest declines, all age groups have shown some improvement, according to a recent report in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

“Our efforts against cancer, including prevention, early detection and better treatment, have resulted in profound gains, but these gains are often unappreciated by the public due to the way the data are usually reported,” said Eric Kort, M.D., who completed the study while employed as a research scientist at Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Cancer mortality rates are usually reported as composite age-adjusted rates. These rates have been declining modestly since the 1990’s. However, these statistics heavily emphasize the experience of the oldest Americans for whom mortality rates are the highest. As a result, trends emerging in younger Americans can be concealed.

As an alternative to age-adjustment, Kort examined cancer mortality rates stratified by age and found that for individuals born since 1925, every age group has experienced a decline in cancer mortality. The youngest age groups have experienced the steepest decline at 25.9 percent per decade, but even the oldest groups have experienced a 6.8 percent per decade decline.

Cancer will surpass heart disease as a cause of death in 2010 because, while both heart disease and cancer have been declining, heart disease mortality rates have been declining much more rapidly. And while it’s true that cancer incidence rates continue to grow, the decreased mortality across all age groups shows the effect of improved screening and treatment.

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