According to the latest statistics, the cancer death rate in the U.S. has been dropping.
A new study just released by the American Cancer Society (ACS) showed that the U.S. cancer death rate fell 32% between 1991 and 2019.
”In summary, progress has stagnated for breast and prostate cancers but strengthened for lung cancer, coinciding with changes in medical practice related to cancer screening and/or treatment,” the study’s abstract read.
”More targeted cancer control interventions and investment in improved early detection and treatment would facilitate reductions in cancer mortality.”
According to an ACS press release, the decrease could be attributed to an increase in the number of people with lung cancer who live longer after diagnosis as treatment and early detection technology has progressed.
”In recent years, more people with lung cancer are being diagnosed when the cancer is at an early stage and living longer as a result,” the statement read.
”The rate of localized-stage disease diagnosis increased by 4.5% yearly from 2014 to 2018, while there were steep declines in advanced disease diagnoses,” the ACS added.
”The result was an overall increase in 3-year survival rates. In 2004, 21 out of 100 people diagnosed with lung cancer were living three years after their diagnosis. By 2018, that number had risen to 31 out of 100 people.”
The report also credits declining rates of smoking and newly available combination therapies.
According to the ACS, rates of liver cancer have also stabilized after cases had previously spiked only a few years ago.
Despite the decline, cancer continues to be the second most common cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease. A total of 1.9 million new cancer cases and 609,360 deaths from cancer are expected to occur in the U.S. in 2022, which is about 1,670 deaths a day.
The ACS also qualified that these statistics don’t include either basal cell or squamous cell skin cancers because U.S. cancer registries are not required to collect information on these cancers. These numbers also do not account for the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has likely had on cancer diagnoses and deaths because they are projections based on reported cases through 2018 and deaths through 2019 before the widespread appearance of the virus.
The researchers also noted that improving upon the success of the reduced cancer death rate will require more investments from national, state, and local levels in two equally important areas, research that expands knowledge and advances treatment options, and making sure that successful, targeted cancer control interventions are more broadly and equitably applied to all populations.