More than 1 million Americans will probably learn they have cancer and at least 500,000 are likely to die from the silent killer in 1989 - an increase over 1988, the American Cancer Society said Friday.

Despite drops in the incidence and death rate of many types of cancer, the society estimated 1,010,000 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in 1989 and 502,000 will die from cancer. About 985,000 were diagnosed with cancer in 1988 and 494,000 Americans are believed to have died from the disease.The number of Americans living with cancer, meanwhile, is expected to increase in 1989, up from 75 million in 1988 to 76 million from 1989.

Lawrence Garfinkel, vice president for epidemiology and statistics for the society, blamed the continued upward trend in cancer incidence and mortality primarily on the continued increase in the size and age of the population.

"Overall the total number of new cases and deaths are going up but much of that is because of the aging of the population and because there are more people," Garfinkel said.

The society used statistics from the National Cancer Institute to make the projections in its annual report, Cancer Facts and Figures.

Overall, the society predicted only 14 of the 38 forms of cancer for which it makes projections are expected to cause an increase in deaths in 1989.

The deadly form of skin cancer known as melanoma, although still uncommon, is among the more rapidly increasing causes of cancer death, the society said.

For 13 cancers, the society expects fewer deaths. These include drops in four varieties of oral cancer and cancers of the stomach, rectum, larynx, uterine cervix, bladder and thyroid.

For 12 other forms of cancer, the estimates of deaths was unchanged.

Lung cancer is expected to remain the most common form of cancer and No. 1 cancer killer in the United States in 1989.

About 155,000 new cases of lung cancer are expected to be diagnosed in the United States in 1989, compared to 152,000 in 1988. About 142,000 Americans are expected to die from lung cancer in 1989, compared to 139,000 in 1988. Five of six lung cancers are related to smoking.

Although the incidence of lung cancer appears to be leveling off in men, the rate is increasing in women.

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5000+v UTAH RATE IS LOWEST

Utah continued to hold the envious position of having the lowest cancer death rate in the nation, according to the American Cancer Society. About 118 of every 100,000 residients of Utah were expected to die from cancer this year.