U.S. cancer deaths dropping by 1.5% a year, report says

Latest figures show that cancer deaths have declined in the United States since 2001, for all types of tumors. File photo by Daniel Sone/National Cancer Institute/Unsplash
Latest figures show that cancer deaths have declined in the United States since 2001, for all types of tumors. File photo by Daniel Sone/National Cancer Institute/Unsplash

March 12 (UPI) -- Deaths from cancer continue to decline in the United States, according to a report published Thursday in the journal Cancer.

The "Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer," which compiled data from several national cancer registries, found that cancer death rates dropped an average of 1.5 percent per year from 2001 to 2017 for all cancers combined.


Over the same period, death rates were reduced by an average of 1.8 percent per year for men, compared to 1.4 percent per year for women, researchers report.

The report is a collaborative effort of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries.

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"The drops in mortality we're seeing are real, sustained and a strong indication of what we can do when we work to prevent and treat cancer," William G. Cance, chief medical and scientific officer for the American Cancer Society, said in a press release. "But we can and must do more, particularly to ensure everyone in the United States has access to the resources that are all too often benefiting only the most fortunate."

The data analyzed in the report combines cancer incidence data collected by CDC's National Program of Cancer Registries and NCI's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program, as well as mortality data from CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. For the first time, the report provided rates and trends for the most common cancers among children and among adolescents and young adults.

The report also found that declines in death rates for all types of cancers were also seen across all major racial and ethnic groups, between 2013 and 2017, and among adolescents, young adults and children. This despite the fact that rates of new cancer diagnoses leveled off among men and increased slightly for women from 2012 to 2016.

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The report found that, from 2013 to 2017, cancer death rates among men suffering from prostate cancer "stabilized," while, for women, they dropped for several common cancers over the same period, including lung, breast and colorectal. Conversely, though, cancer death rates increased for women with cancers of the uterus, liver, brain and pancreas, among others.

Overall, cancer death rates among children up to age 14 decreased by an average of 1.4 percent per year between 2001 and 2017. Among adolescents and young adults between 15 and 39, cancer death rates decreased an average of 1 percent per year over the same period.

The most common cancer types among children were leukemia, brain and lymphoma, with increasing incidence trends for each of these cancers from 2012 to 2016, according to the report. The most common cancer among adolescents and young adults was female breast cancer, and rates were highest among young black women.

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Although lung cancer death rates decreased 4.8 percent per year among men and 3.7 percent per year among women between 2001 and 2017, the disease continues to be the leading cause of cancer death, accounting for about one-fourth of all cancer deaths.

"Thanks to advances brought about by basic research, we are making remarkable progress against cancer," said Norman E. "Ned" Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute. "This report provides further evidence that cancer death rates continue to decline. But we must not be complacent. The cancer incidence data -- especially the increase in cancer among women -- is a clear reminder that there is more work ahead."

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