US cancer death rate hits milestone: 25 years of decline

Maricruz Casares
Enero 11, 2019

The U.S. cancer death rate has hit a milestone: It's been falling for at least 25 years. The data come from Cancer Statistics, 2019, the American Cancer Society's widely-quoted annual report on cancer rates and trends.

There's been a decline in the historic racial gap in cancer death rates, but an economic gap is growing - especially when it comes to deaths that could be prevented by early screening and treatment, better eating and less smoking. He says that smoking is one of the most identifiable causes of various cancers such as lung cancer.

The latest numbers show the cancer death rate has dropped 27 percent since 1991 - with the lung cancer death rate down almost 50 percent among men over that time. Looking ahead, in 2019, the report estimates, 1,762,450 new cases of invasive cancer will be diagnosed in the United States, which is equivalent to more than 4800 cases per day. Between 2012 and 2016, the death rate for liver cancer rose 1.2 percent among men and 2.6 percent among women, while the rate for pancreatic cancer rose 0.3 percent among men.

However, the impact of obesity on cancer risk is hard to investigate from other behaviors or attributes people with obesity may have, particularly related to diet. For example, in the early 1970s, colon cancer death rates were 20 percent lower in poor counties, and today they are 35 percent higher, when compared with people living in richer counties, Siegel said.

Cancer is the second most common cause of death among children ages 1 to 14 years in the USA, after accidents. Moreover, the study only looked at a subset of cases.

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Ortner tells KLIN News that it's not all good news. But now obesity accounts for a third of liver cancer deaths, and is more of a factor than hepatitis, Siegel said.

Still, the decline in cancer-related mortality does not affect the entire American population equally. "But we have a long way to go". While she celebrated the progress made, she also noted that the report showed that where a patient lives can dictate their chances of surviving cancer and that many patients cannot access high-quality care or be involved in research.

Still, disparities may persist because "socioeconomic status plays a pivotal role in cancer incidence and survival", Theodorescu said. Cancer outcomes differ among racial/ethnic groups The rates of new cancer cases and cancer deaths vary quite a bit among racial and ethnic groups, with rates generally highest among African Americans and lowest for Asian Americans.

"What you see is a tragedy of increasing rates of obesity, which is now a risk for certain types of cancer; more clearly identified higher rates of tobacco use; and issues with access to cancer screening and prevention strategies and probably issues with access to diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to cancer", he added.

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