A 20 percent Drop in Cancer Death Rates Over Last Two Decades

by Denise Mann ,  WebMD | 2013-01-17

Cancer death rates peaked 20 years ago, and have fallen since by 20% according to the latest statistics from the American Cancer Society. This means that 1.2 million lives were spared from 1991 to 2009, including almost 153,000 lives in 2009 alone.

Progress is steady, and for the four major cancer sites, progress is even faster says researcher Rebecca Siegel, MPH. The four major sites cancer appears are prostate, breast, colo-rectum and lung. Siegel also said: “Cancer death rates peaked in the 1990s, and we have seen a 1% decline per year, but we are seeing much larger declines for the most common cancers.”

Specifically, figures show a drop of more than 30% in death rates for colorectal cancer, breast cancer in women, and lung cancer in men, and by more than 40% for prostate cancer.

Several factors may be driving these drops: less smoking for lung cancer, and earlier detection and better treatments for colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers.

Yet there are some bad news too. In the U.S. ¼ dies due to cancer, and rates of liver cancer or thyroid and pancreatic cancers, are on the rise.

The estimates about cancer cases and deaths for 2013 are grim. The study shows there will be more than 580,000 cancer deaths and 1,660,000 new cancer cases in the U.S. this year.

Sources: "Cancer Facts and Figures 2013", "Cancer Statistics 2013".

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