US cancer death rates see largest single-year drop on record

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Overall cancer death rates in the U.S. fell by 2.2 percent from 2016 to 2017, the largest single‐year drop ever recorded, according to a report from the American Cancer Society.

The annual report estimates the numbers of new cancer cases and deaths expected this year. It also compiles the most recent data on cancer occurrence from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program; the National Program of Cancer Registries and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries. Mortality data was collected by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Researchers estimate 1.8 million new cancer cases and 606,520 cancer deaths will occur in 2020.

But cancer death rates have been declining steadily since 1991, resulting in an overall decline of 29 percent from 1991 to 2017. The decline is driven by a drop in death rates for the four leading cancers: lung, colorectal, breast and prostate.

Declines in lung cancer deaths, in particular, spurred the 2.2 percent decrease in overall cancer death rates, according to the report. Declines in skin cancer death rates also drove the decrease in overall cancer deaths.

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