For the first time in decades, the death rate from lung cancer among women in the U.S. is finally dropping. It may be a turning point in the smoking-fueled epidemic.

The nation’s annual report on cancer cautions that it’s a small decline—just shy of 1 percent a year over five years. Lung cancer remains the leading cancer killer both nationally and worldwide.

But the long-anticipated drop is a hopeful sign that the trend is real.

Overall death rates from cancer and rates of new diagnoses also continue a slow but steady years-long decline. The new cancer report covers the years 2003 to 2007, the most recent data available. It appears in Thursday’s issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)


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