Cancer death rates down 25% since 1991

From 1991 to 2014, more than 2.1 million cancer deaths were avoided as the cancer mortality rate for men and women combined fell 25 percent in that time period, according to a new report from the American Cancer Society.

"The continuing drops in the cancer death rate are a powerful sign of the potential we have to reduce cancer's deadly toll," said Otis W. Brawley, MD, CMO of the ACS. "Continuing that success will require more clinical and basic research to improve early detection and treatment, as well as creative new strategies to increase healthy behaviors nationwide. Finally, we need to consistently apply existing knowledge in cancer control across all segments of the population, particularly to disadvantaged groups.”

Here are four things to know from the report, "Cancer Statistics, 2017," published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

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1. The rate of new cancer diagnoses fell roughly 2 percent annually in men and stayed the same in women.

2. Lung, colorectal, prostate and breast cancer are among the most common causes of cancer death — those four account for about 46 percent of all cancer deaths in men and women. Of those four, lung cancer is the most deadly — more than one out of every four cancer deaths is due to lung cancer.

3. Looking ahead, prostate, lung and colorectal cancer is projected to account for 42 percent of all newly diagnosed cancers in men this year. In women, the most common cancers in 2017 will be breast, lung and colorectal, according to the report.

4. In children ages 1 to 14 years old, cancer is the second most common cause of death, behind only accidents. Leukemia is the most common childhood cancer, accounting for 29 percent of all cases. While cancer incidence rates increased 0.6 percent annually from 1975 through 2013, survival rates have improved from 58 percent for children diagnosed from 1975 to 1997 to 83 percent for those diagnosed from 2006 to 2012.

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