Cancer death rate in U.S. shows large one-year drop

Lung cancer seen on a chest MRI scan. There’s been a striking decline in overall cancer mortality in the U.S., says the director of the National Cancer Institute. (Cavallini James/BSIP/Universal Images Group/Getty)

(Thompson Reuters) — Cancer deaths in the United States fell 2.2 percent from 2016 to 2017 — the largest single-year drop ever recorded —fuelled in large part by progress against lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death, the American Cancer Society (ACS) reported Wednesday.

Overall, cancer death rates in the United States fell 29 percent from 1991 to 2017, driven by steady drops in deaths from lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancers, according to the Society’s annual report on cancer rates and trends published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

“The report shows a continued striking decline in overall cancer mortality in the United States,” Dr. Ned Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute, said in a telephone interview with Reuters Health. “That trend shows no sign of abating.”

Study co-author Rebecca Siegel, scientific director of surveillance research at the ACS, attributes that to a doubling in improvement in deaths from lung cancer, which fell 4 percent in the study period. Lung cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease.

“If you take lung cancer out of the mix, the drop was only 1.4 percent. It is truly the acceleration for lung cancer that is driving the record drop that we saw,” she said in a telephone interview. (…)

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