In 2017 US Cancer Death Rate Declined By Largest One Year Drop
Medical advances have been dropping the overall cancer death rate by about 1.5% a year since 1991. From 2016 to 2017 it jumped to a drop of 2.2%. "That’s the largest drop ever seen in national cancer statistics going back to 1930", said Rebecca Siegel.
“It’s absolutely driven by lung cancer,” which accounts for about a quarter of all cancer deaths, she said. Take lung cancer out of the mix, and the 2017 rate drop is 1.4%, she added.
Experts mainly credit advances in treatment. “It’s an exciting time,” said Dr. Jyoti Patel, a Northwestern University lung cancer expert.
Even patients with late-stage cancers are surviving for several years — rather than months — after treatment starts, she said. “That was very, very uncommon a decade ago,” she said.
New immunotherapy drugs could accelerate the death rate decline, Patel said.
Siegel also found:
— The overall cancer death rate fell by nearly 30% from 1991 through 2017.
— Death rates from one type of skin cancer dropped even more dramatically than lung cancer — falling 7% a year recently. That decline in melanoma patients is attributed to drugs that came on the market about nine years ago.
— Declines in the death rates from prostate, breast and colon cancer are slowing, for a range of reasons.
— The rising liver cancer death rate seems to have leveled off somewhat. That may be related to better treatment of hepatitis C infections, which are tied to about 25% of liver cancer cases