Health Care

U.S. cancer death rate hits 25 years of decline, study says

U.S. cancer death rate hits 25 years of decline, study says”

Life expectancy in the USA may be on a downward trend, but a recent study marked a bright spot: cancer deaths have dropped for 25 years straight, according to the American Cancer Society's annual report published Tuesday.

The study from the American Cancer Society found there were approximately 2.6 million fewer cancer deaths in the USA since reaching a peak of 215 deaths per 100,000 people.

The research team estimates that thanks to factors like lower smoking rates, earlier cancer detection, and better treatment, over 2.6 million lives were saved in that time period. The greatest number of deaths are expected to be from cancers of the lung, prostate, and colorectum in men, and cancers of the lung, breast, and colorectum in women. The overall 27% drop in mortality rate translates into 2.6 million fewer deaths from cancer between the years 1991 and 2016. From 1991 to 2016, there was a continuous decrease of 27 percent in the overall cancer death rate, representing about 2,629,200 fewer cancer deaths than expected based on peak rates. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city will expand health coverage to an estimated 600,000 residents now without insurance, The Washington Post reported.

The data also showed that a disparity in death rates between black and white cancer patients appeared to be closing. Socioeconomic inequalities are widening, although the racial gap in cancer mortality is narrowing slowly, according to the researchers. That's a decrease of 1.5% each year.

The new study does a "very good job" summarizing those trends, said Dr. Walter Curran, executive director of the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in Atlanta, who was not involved in the study.

For example, the report demonstrated that in poorer counties, cervical cancer-related deaths were twice as common in women and men experienced 40% more lung and liver cancer-related deaths compared with more affluent counties.

"The encouraging point is that cancer mortality continues to go down, particularly for men, but the tough part is, we're still seeing over 600,000 Americans dying of cancer every year", he said.

The study authors also said that cases of melanoma have been increasing, as well as cases of liver, thyroid, uterine and pancreatic cancer. Oncology experts say advances in cancer drugs have played a major role, too. "No insurance or low-coverage insurance also reduces the incentive to visit the doctor for symptoms and even more for preventive health practices, such as smoking cessation, yearly physicals, and immunizations against cancer-causing viruses".

Of the most common types of cancer in the USA, all the ones with increasing death rates are linked to obesity, including cancers of the thyroid, pancreas and uterus.

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