In 2017 US Cancer Death Rate Declined By Largest One Year Drop


A report says that new treatments, better drugs and better detection has lead to drastic drops in the cancer death rate.

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

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