Cancer Rates Hit 25-Year Low

Grant Boone
January 11, 2019

"The continued decline in the cancer death rate over the past 25 years is really good news and was a little bit of a surprise, only because the other leading causes of death in the USA are starting to flatten", Rebecca Siegel of the American Cancer Society, and lead author of the study, told CNN. According to the article, the Cancer Society report found cancer death rates dropping 27% between 1991 and 2016, with the lung cancer death rate down by approximately 50% among men since 1991. In other words, it looked like as obesity rates climb, so does colorectal cancer risk.

But the report also covered rates in serious cancers like liver, thyroid and pancreatic cancers, all of which are on the rise, according to The WSJ. Among cancers, it has long killed the most people, especially men.

Racial and Ethnic Disparities According to the report, the cancer death rate was 14% higher in blacks than in whites in 2016. Colorectal cancer mortality dropped by 53% from 1970 to 2016.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death after heart disease, the researchers reported. New lung cancer diagnoses have also dropped 3% in men and 1.5% in women between 2011 and 2015. During 2012-2016, death rates in the poorest counties were 2 times higher for cervical cancer and 40% higher for male lung and liver cancers, compared with the richest counties. "These counties are low‐hanging fruit for locally focused cancer control efforts, including increased access to basic health care and interventions for smoking cessation, healthy living, and cancer screening programs", the authors of the paper write.

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However, the data also revealed a potentially troubling trend: a growing gap in death rates based on wealth.

Racial and ethnic differences in cancer burden reflect several factors related to socioeconomic status. Furthermore, an estimated 606,880 Americans will die from cancer, a number that corresponds to 1700 deaths per day. In 2019, an estimated 11,060 children in this age group will be diagnosed with cancer and 1,190 will die from it. Leukemia accounts for nearly a third (28%) of all childhood cancers, followed by brain and other nervous system tumors (26%). The data come from Cancer Statistics, 2019, the American Cancer Society's widely-quoted annual report on cancer rates and trends. Between 2008 and 2014, the 5-year relative survival rate for children rose to 83% from the previous 58% in the mid-1970s and rose to 85% for adolescents from the previous rate of 68%.

Cancer risk increases with age, and the rapidly growing older population will increase demand for cancer care. But now obesity accounts for a third of liver cancer deaths, and is more of a factor than hepatitis, Siegel said. Note: material may have been edited for length and content.

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