US cancer deaths continue to decline: 5 report findings

The rate of deaths attributable to cancer declined by 1.7 percent from 2014 to 2015, continuing a downward trend that began in 1991, according to estimates published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians

The estimates are part of an annual report produced by the American Cancer Society. For the report, researchers analyzed the most recent data available on cancer incidence, mortality and survival. The research team obtained the data from multiple national registries and surveillance programs.

Here are five report findings.

1. The cancer death rate declined 26 percent from 215.1 per 100,000 population in 1991 to 158.6 per 100,000 in 2015.

2. The overall decline in cancer deaths is attributable to decreasing death rates for lung, breast, prostate and colorectal cancer. Lung cancer deaths among men declined 45 percent from 1990 to 2015 and 19 percent among women from 2002 to 2015. Female breast cancer deaths dropped 39 percent from 1989 to 2015, prostate cancer deaths dropped 52 percent from 1993 to 2015 and colorectal cancer deaths declined by 52 percent from 1970 to 2015.

3. Despite overall progress in the reduction of cancer deaths, racial disparities remain. The rate of death attributable to cancer in 2015 was 14 percent higher in blacks than in whites.

4. The decline in cancer deaths has also been more pronounced in men than in women. While the cancer death rate for men declined 32 percent since 1990, the cancer death rate for women dropped 23 percent since 1991. However, the lifetime probability of receiving a cancer diagnosis remained slightly higher in men (39.7 percent likelihood) than in women (37.6 percent).

5. The report's authors estimated about 1.7 million new cases of cancer will be identified in 2018. The new cases will result in 609,640 deaths: 323,630 deaths among men and 286,010 deaths among women.

"This new report reiterates where cancer control efforts have worked, particularly the impact of tobacco control," said Otis Brawley, MD, CMO of the American Cancer Society. "A decline in consumption of cigarettes is credited with being the most important factor in the drop in cancer death rates. Strikingly though, tobacco remains by far the leading cause of cancer deaths today, responsible for nearly three in ten cancer deaths."

More articles on population health: 
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Cigarette smoking on the rise among America's drug users

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