Mortality rates from all cancers dropped 32% since 1991, American Cancer Society reports

Mortality rates from all cancers combined in 2019 dropped 32 percent since 1991, when rates were at the highest, according to a Nov. 11 press release from the American Cancer Society. 

An analysis from the American Cancer Society published Nov. 11 in JAMA Oncology observed cancer mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics for all cancers and for the top 15 sites in 1971, which accounted for 81 percent of cancer deaths at the time. 

Researchers said the findings demonstrate considerable progress in reducing the cancer burden in wake of expanded public investment following the National Cancer Act. 2021 marks the 50th year of the legislation, which made defeating cancer a national priority. 

Four takeaways: 

  • Mortality rates for all cancers combined dropped by 27 percent since 1971 and by 32 percent since 1991.

  • Mortality rates have dropped since 1971 for 12 of 15 investigated cancer sites, including by as much as 70 percent for cervical and stomach cancer.

  • Mortality rates increased for pancreatic cancer and in parts of the South.

  • Progress for brain and esophageal cancers was limited. 

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