U.S. Cancer Death Rate Plummets From 1991 Peak

U.S. Cancer Death Rate Plummets From 1991 Peak

The rate of cancer deaths in the US dropped 27% between 1991 and 2016, according to a new report from the American Cancer Society, amounting to 2.6 million fewer deaths.

Almost three-quarters of these cases are "potentially preventable", due to risk factors like obesity, cigarette smoking, excess alcohol consumption, and hepatitis B and C viruses.

Lung cancer is the main reason.

Between 1990 and 2016, deaths from lung cancer among men dropped 48 percent, and deaths from breast cancer among women decreased 40 percent.

The report's authors predicted 1.76 million new cancer diagnoses and 607,000 cancer deaths in the U.S.in 2019, according to The WSJ. For American adults, cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease and the second-most common in children aged 1 to 14 (after accidents).

In fact, cancer deaths dropped 27 percent from 1991 to 2016, according to the report.

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.

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"We are probably only seeing the tip of the iceberg regarding the influence of the obesity epidemic on cancer rates", said Rebecca Siegel, strategic director of surveillance information services at the American Cancer Society and lead author of the new report.

"Although the racial gap in cancer mortality is slowly narrowing, socioeconomic inequalities are widening, with the most notable gaps for the most preventable cancers", wrote researchers in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. With the overall death rate declining by 1 percent to 2 percent annually between 1991 and 2016, the most recent year available, the nation has avoided about 2.6 million deaths over that period, the group found. He was particularly struck by the fact that nine women aged 20 to 39 die each week from cervical cancer in the USA, despite the fact that Merck & Co.'s Gardasil vaccine can prevent it from forming.

According to Electra Paskett, co-program leader of the cancer control program at Ohio State University's Comprehensive Cancer Center, "The people who suffer the most are impacted by social determinants of health, which include where they live, their socioeconomic condition, their education, their income". Other cancer deaths on the rise are soft-tissue cancers (such as heart) and oral cancers linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV). This year, an estimated 11,060 children diagnosed with cancer will die from it, with leukemia accounting for nearly one-third, followed by brain and other nervous system tumors.

In 1991, the USA cancer death rate was 215.1 per 100,000 people, data from the study shows.

Another is liver cancer. For example, the cervical cancer death rate among women in poor counties in the U.S.is twice as high as that of women in wealthier counties, the report said.

Paskett pointed out that "we have made great strides".

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