A 25 percent drop over the past 25 years. Cancer death rates in the U.S. are declining and that has saved the lives of more than 2.1 million people since 1991 according to a new report from the American Cancer Society.
The drop is fueled by decreasing death rates from the four largest types of cancer: lung, breast, prostate and colorectal. “It’s pretty exciting for us that the cancer death rate continues to decline,” says Rebecca Siegel, strategic director of surveillance information services at the American Cancer Society and lead author of the annual report.
The authors credit the drop to reductions in smoking—shown last year to be responsible for about 30% of all cancer deaths—as well as advances in treatment and earlier detection.
Despite the encouraging numbers, the cancer death rate for men remains significantly higher than it does for women….about 40 percent higher. And the incidence of cancer is 20 percent higher in men.
According to the Washington Post, “That gender disparity reflects differences in the kind of cancers that men and women develop. For example, liver cancer, which is often lethal, is three times more common in men, largely because of their higher rates of hepatitis C infection, smoking and excess alcohol consumption. The largest gender disparities are for cancers of the esophagus, larynx and bladder; incidence and death rates are four times higher in men, the report said.”
LiveScience.com also pointed out that “racial disparities remain, as the cancer death rate in 2014 was still 15 percent higher in blacks than in whites, the report said.” However, the article also credited the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as part of the reason for the overall drop in cancer death rates among minority populations.
Increased access to care through the Affordable Care Act may be helping to close this gap, the researchers said. Indeed, the rates of uninsured people decreased by half for both blacks and Hispanics between 2010 and 2015.
According to NBC News, the four biggest cancer killers in 2017 will be:
- Lung cancer, which will be diagnosed in 222,500 people and will kill 155,870 in 2017
- Colorectal cancer, which will be diagnosed in 135,000 people and will kill 50,260
- Breast cancer, which will be diagnosed in 255,180 people and will kill 41,070
- Prostate cancer, which will be diagnosed in 161,360 men and will kill 26,730
Finally, Yahoo News noted that maintaining the overall drop in mortality rates “will require more clinical and basic research to improve early detection and treatment, as well as creative new strategies to increase healthy behaviors nationwide.”
Share your thoughts on this new study on what it means for people in our state. We’d also love to hear your thoughts on whether you agree with researchers that “Upcoming decisions on the Affordable Care Act and Medicare, as well as funding for the National Cancer Institute, will have a big influence on the pace of progress for patients well into the future.” Keeping Arizonans healthy and cancer free will go a long way toward helping us reach our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!