The death rate from breast cancer continues to drop steadily by about 2 percent a year, but black women are not seeing the same benefits as whites, the American Cancer Society said on Tuesday.
The group found that during 2001 through 2004, breast cancer diagnoses fell by an average of 3.7 percent a year — in part because women stopped taking hormone replacement therapy and in part because fewer got mammograms and therefore were not diagnosed.
Death rates fell by 2 percent during that period.
For women over the age of 50, breast cancer rates fell more sharply, by 4.8 percent a year since 2001, the group said. Breast cancer rates were stable among black women and younger women, the group said.
"While many women live in fear of breast cancer, this report shows a woman today has a lower chance of dying from breast cancer than she's had in decades," Dr. Harmon Eyre, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, said in a statement.
The report, titled "Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2007-2008," also shows that about 2.4 million U.S. women alive in 2004 had a history of breast cancer.
The American Cancer Society predicts that 180,510 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2007, and 40,910 women and men will die from it.
In January the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a slight 2 percent drop in the number of women getting regular mammograms, which can help doctors diagnose breast cancer early, when it is the most treatable.