Cancer Death Rate Continues to Drop

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, so it is good news when the American Cancer Society, a nationwide, community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem, announces that the cancer death rate is dropping. 

According to the American Cancer Society’s latest annual report, published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, there has been a 23% drop in the cancer death rate since its peak in 1991. 

Steady reductions in smoking, combined with advances in cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment are attributed to the decline in the cancer rate that translates to more than 1.7 million cancer deaths averted through 2012. 

Every year, the American Cancer Society estimates new cancer cases and deaths in the U.S. for the current year and compiles the most recent data on cancer incidence, mortality, and survival.  The report estimates there will be 1,685,210 new cancer cases and 595,690 cancer deaths in the United States in 2016. 

Overall, new cases of cancer is stable in women and declining by 3.1% per year in men, with half of the drop in men due to recent rapid declines in prostate cancer diagnoses as PSA testing decreases.  Cancer mortality continues to decline with the rate dropping 1.8% per year in men and 1.4% per year in women.  The decline in cancer death rates over the past two decades is driven by continued decreases in death rates for the four major cancer sites: lung, breast, prostate, and colon.  Death rates for female breast cancer have declined 36% from peak rates in 1989, while deaths from prostate and colorectal cancers have each dropped about 50% from their peak, a result of improvements in early detection and treatment.  Lung cancer death rates declined 38% between 1990 and 2012 among males and 13% between 2002 and 2012 among females due to reduced tobacco use. 

The report also features an analysis of leading causes of death by state and finds that, even as cancer remains the second leading cause of death nationwide, steep drops in deaths from heart disease have made cancer the leading cause of death in 21 states, including Massachusetts.  In addition, cancer is the leading cause of death among adults ages 40 to 79, and among both Hispanics and Asian/Pacific Islanders, who together make up one-quarter of the U.S. population. 

If you, or a loved one, have recently been diagnosed with cancer and have treatment questions, or would like a second opinion, please contact the Commonwealth Newburyport Cancer Center today.