Death Rate from Cancer Falling for Americans of all Backgrounds

A comprehensive new report published recently sheds new light on trends relating to death caused by cancer. Fewer Americans are being affected by and killed by cancer across numerous different types with every passing year. The overall drop in cancer death rates is largely due to decreasing death rates for lung, breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers.

According to an annual statistics report from the American Cancer Society, the cancer death rate for men and women in American combined had fallen 26% from its peak in 1991. In short, this roughly translates to about 2.4 million deaths that have been averted during this period.

Check out the graph below released by the CDC detailing the gradually declining cancer rates between 1999 and 2014.

There are some conflicting reports, however, as noted by the Washington Post in a similar article released today. In a study investigating death rate trends for prostate cancer, death rate has stopped decreasing after a steady twenty-year decrease.

“We can’t say what triggered the change,” said Serban Negoita, a data expert at the National Cancer Institute cancer surveillance program and lead author of the report.

According to both reports, the incidence of some types of cancers declined in men and women while it increased in others.

Men experienced lower rates of seven of their 17 most common types of cancer. These included cancers of the prostate (which declined by an average of 7.6 percent per year), lung and bronchus (2.4 percent), larynx (2.3 percent), colon and rectum (1.9 percent), esophagus (1.6 percent), bladder (0.8 percent) and brain and nervous system (0.2 percent).

Women experienced reductions in seven of their 18 most common cancers. These included cancers of the colon and rectum (which fell by an average of 1.7 percent per year), ovaries (1.6 percent), lung and bronchus (1.2 percent), cervix (1 percent), bladder (0.8 percent), brain and nervous system (0.7 percent) and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (0.4 percent).

Men saw higher rates of eight common cancers, including those of the liver (which increased by 2.8 percent per year, on average), myeloma (2.5 percent), thyroid (2.4 percent), melanoma of the skin (2.3 percent), leukemia (1.6 percent), oral cavity and pharynx (1.3 percent), kidney (1.1 percent) and pancreas (1 percent).

Women experienced higher rates of cancer at 10 of their most common sites, including the liver (with a 3.8 percent average annual increase), thyroid (1.9 percent), myeloma (1.6 percent), leukemia (1.4 percent), uterus (1.2 percent), melanoma of the skin (1.2 percent), pancreas (1.1 percent), oral cavity and pharynx (0.8 percent), breast (0.4 percent) and kidney (0.4 percent).

The obesity epidemic helped fuel the increase in some of these cancers, including those of the breast, kidney, endometrium, and pancreas, the study authors noted.

Interestingly enough, the study also releases numbers on cancer trends for American children between 2010 and 2014. The study reports that between this time period American children were more likely to be diagnosed with cancer but were less likely to die as a result.

What might this mean for the future? While the trends seem favorable for people of all backgrounds, the intersection between medicine and technology is hard at work to decrease those patterns even further.

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