U.S. cancer death rates have declined continuously for the last quarter of a century, according to a new report.
It’s a milestone in the fight against cancer: U.S. cancer death rates have declined continuously for the last quarter of a century, according to a new report.
From 1991 to 2016, the U.S. cancer death rate dropped steadily by about 1.5 percent per year, resulting in an overall decline of 27 percent during the 25-year-period, according to the report from the American Cancer Society (ACS). That translates to an estimated 2.6 million fewer cancer deaths than would have been expected if death rates had remained at their peak level, the researchers said.
But despite this progress, there are growing disparities in cancer deaths according to socioeconomic status, with people living in poorer communities experiencing an increasingly larger burden of preventable cancers, the report said.
Although the continued decline in overall cancer death rates is good news, the “bad news that this report highlighted [is that] inequalities are widening, particularly among those of low socioeconomic status,” said Dr. Darrell Gray II, deputy director of the Center for Cancer Health Equity at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, who was not involved in the study. “It underscores the importance of health care providers, researchers and lay community members and advocates to continue to push toward health equity,” Gray told Live Science.
Declines in major cancers
The annual report from the ACS, which was published today (Jan. 8) in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, analyzes the most recent data on cancer incidence, deaths and survival rates in the U.S.
In 2016, there were 156 cancer deaths for every 100,000 people, down from a rate of 215 cancer deaths per 100,000 people in 1991.
The two-and-a-half-decade decline is mostly due to reductions in smoking (which increases the risk of a number of cancers, particularly lung cancer), as well as advances in the early detection and treatment of cancer, the report said.
For example, lung cancer death rates have dropped by 48 percent among men from 1990 to 2016; and 23 percent among women from 2002 to 2016. Breast cancer death rates dropped 40 percent among women from 1989 to 2016; prostate cancer death rates dropped by 51 percent among men from 1993 to 2016; and colorectal cancer death rates dropped by 53 percent among both men and women from 1970 to 2016, the report said.
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