Cancer Rates Hit 25-Year Low

Cancer Rates Hit 25-Year Low

Cancer Rates Hit 25-Year Low

The nation's cancer death rate dropped a whopping 27 percent during the last quarter century, according to a new report by the American Cancer Society. Since the peak of 215.1 deaths per 100,000 individuals in 1991, the cancer death rate has dropped steadily by approximately 1.5% per year. This decline translates to about 1.5% per year and more than 2.6 million deaths avoided between 1991 and 2016. But not all populations are benefitting.

Racial and Ethnic Disparities According to the report, the cancer death rate was 14% higher in blacks than in whites in 2016. "Cancer Statistics, 2019", published in the American Cancer Society's journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, estimates the numbers of new cancer cases and deaths expected in the United States this year. The article appears early online in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, and is accompanied by a consumer version, Cancer Facts & Figures 2019. "But we have a long way to go".

Siegel noted that the most concerning of the widening SES disparities was "especially notable for the most preventable cancers". "Cancer is still one of the leading causes of death among Americans".

The downward trend is also somewhat of a shock in the face of worldwide cancer numbers that are continuing to grow. For example, deaths from liver cancer increased each year among men and women.

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In addition, the decrease in mortality among men was 34% against 24% for women. Cervical cancer deaths are twice as high for women in poor counties now, compared with women in affluent counties. Colorectal cancer mortality dropped by 53% from 1970 to 2016. Therefore, fewer cases of prostate cancer are now being detected. Pancreatic cancer deaths rose slightly among men. Cancer remains the second leading cause of death both in the United States and globally, with heart disease taking the top spot. However, this has narrowed the gap from 1993 when the rate was 33%. The progress is due to the steep drop in smoking rates among black teens from the late 1970s through the early 1990s. Several factors affect the differences among racial and ethnic groups, including socioeconomic status (SES). People living in the poorest counties in the USA are more likely to smoke and be obese.

"We are probably only seeing the tip of the iceberg regarding the influence of the obesity epidemic on cancer rates", Siegel said, according to The WSJ.

In addition, poor people are less likely to be screened for cancer, and so cancer is likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage that makes treatment problematic.

Cancer is the second most common cause of death among children ages 1 to 14 years in the U.S., after accidents.

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Cancer incidence rates increased in children and adolescents by 0.7% per year since 1975. Although this age group is the fastest-growing population in the United States, with the number of adults ≥85 years in the United States expected to almost triple from 6.4 million in 2016 to 19 million in 2060, they are also the fastest-growing group of cancer survivors, placing greater demand on cancer care needs for an older population. Diagnosis and treatment of cancer at older ages are often complicated by other medical conditions. "A reduction in cancer mortality does not mean it is zero or even close to zero".

However, this age group now represents one-third of all male cancer survivors and one-fourth of all female cancer survivors. 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.

Rates of new liver cancers are rising faster than for any other cancer. But now obesity accounts for a third of liver cancer deaths, and is more of a factor than hepatitis, Siegel said.

Rates of new cases also rose for melanoma skin cancer, thyroid cancer, endometrial cancer, and pancreatic cancer.

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But if the death rate had remained at its 1991 level, the number of additional deaths would have been 2.6 million, say the report's authors. Note: material may have been edited for length and content.

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