Good News: U.S. Cancer Death Rates Have Fallen 25% Since 1991

Good News: U.S. Cancer Death Rates Have Fallen 25% Since 1991
Posted on

Deaths from cancer in the United States peaked in 1991, but have since dropped a whopping 25%, according a report published earlier this year by the American Cancer Society (ACS). [1]

As a result of that drop, 2.1 million fewer people died from cancer between 1991 and 2014 than would have died if cancer death rates had remained stagnant at their 1991 level.

The ACS credits reductions in smoking and advances in early detection and treatment for the significant decline, such as more people having colonoscopies to detect colorectal cancer.

Source: CDC

Dr. Otis Brawley, the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, said in a statement:

“The continuing drops in the cancer death rate are a powerful sign of the potential we have to reduce cancer’s deadly toll.

Continuing that success will require more clinical and basic research to improve early detection and treatment, as well as strategies to increase healthy behaviors nationwide.” [1]

The researchers also credit the Affordable Care Act with improving survival rates in ethnic minorities. Between 2010 and 2015, the Affordable Care Act decreased the number of uninsured from 21% to 11% in African-Americans, and from 31% to 16% among Latinos. [2]

The report, published in the journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Cliniciansshows the decline in cancer death rates was fairly steady for more than two decades, decreasing about 1.5% each year during the study period. [1]

The cancer death rate fell from 215 deaths per 100,000 people in 1991 to 161 deaths per 100,000 people in 2014.

Read: Study: Moderate Exercise May Cut Your Risk of 13 Types of Cancer!

Fewer deaths attributable to four types of cancer played a significant role in the overall decline – lung, prostate, breast, and colorectal. For example, deaths from lung cancer in men dropped by 43% from 1990 to 2014, and in women by 17% between 2002 and 2014. The colorectal cancer death rate decreased by 51% between 1976 and 2014.

To paint a clearer picture, in the mid-1970’s, the five-year survival rate for someone diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia was about 41%. For patients diagnosed between 2006 and 2012, however, the five-year survival rate had increased to 71%.

In the mid-1970’s, the five-year survival rate for chronic myeloid leukemia stood at a dismal 22%, but the five-year survival rate is now 66%. And thanks to new therapies, people diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia before age 65 can expect a near-normal life expectancy. [2]

Progress is slow in the areas of lung and pancreatic cancers, however. Those types of cancer tend to be caught in the later stages. As a result, the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is just 8%, while the five-year survival rate for lung cancer is 18%.

Read: Women’s Cancer Deaths Expected to Climb 60% by 2030

Cases of new liver cancer diagnoses and deaths are increasing, according to the researchers. The number of new cases has grown by 3% yearly, and liver cancer deaths rose by 3% annually between 2010 and 2014.

Additionally, deaths from uterine cancer are on the rise, increasing by 2% per year in that period.

Source: PublicHealth

Researchers estimate there will be more than 1.6 million new cases of cancer in the U.S. this year, or about 4,600 diagnoses each day, and over 600,000 cancer deaths, or about 1,650 deaths each day. [1]


[1] LiveScience

[2] Los Angeles Times

Brac University