U.S. Cancer Death Rate Fell 2.2% in One Year

From 2016 to 2017, the American Cancer Society reported that the cancer death rate in the U.S. dropped 2.2% – the largest single-year decline ever recorded. This decline may be due to a reduction in smoking rates, advances in lung cancer diagnosis and treatment, and new therapies to treat metastatic melanoma.

The most dramatic decrease occurred in melanoma, for which mortality rates fell 7% per year among adults 20 to 64 years, and 5 to 6% per year in patients ≥65 years, after the FDA approved ipilimumab and vemurafenib to treat metastatic melanoma in 2011 .

Still, after heart disease, cancer is the second leading cause of death among men and women in the U.S. The American Cancer Society predicts that 1,806,590 new cancer cases will be diagnosed and 606,520 patients will die of cancer in 2020.

Reductions in the death rates for certain types of cancer, including colorectal, breast, and prostate, have stalled, possibly as a result of racial and geographic disparities in cancer care as well as rising rates of obesity-related malignancies. For example, black men were twice as likely to die of cancer than Asian/Pacific Islander men, and 20% more likely than white men.

“Ensuring equal access to known cancer prevention and early detection methods would go far to accelerate the progress against overall cancer,” director of surveillance research at the American Cancer Society Rebecca Siegel, MPH, said.

Source: The New York Times, January 8, 2020.