U.S. Cancer Mortality Rate Has Significant Single-Year Drop

The U.S. cancer mortality rate has continued to decline for the 26th year in a row, according to data from the American Cancer Society (ACS) report. In particular, 2016 to 2017 saw the largest single-year decline in cancer mortality at 2.2%. The report was published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

“What is really driving that is the acceleration in the decline of mortality for lung cancer, and the reason that is encouraging is because lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, causing more deaths in the United States than breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers combined,” first author Rebecca Siegel, scientific director of surveillance research of the ACS in Atlanta, Georgia, told CNN.

Each year, the ACS uses data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program; the National Program of Cancer Registries; the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries; and the National Center for Health Statistics.

Changes in mortality per cancer type

The report predicts 1,806,590 new cancer cases and 606,520 cancer deaths in 2020. Historically, the cancer mortality rate increased through 1991, then fell continuously through 2017, resulting in an overall decline of 29%, representing an estimated 2.9 million fewer cancer deaths.

The progress was largely driven by long‐term declines in death rates for lung, colorectal, breast, prostate cancers. However, between 2008 and 2017, reductions for female breast and colorectal cancers have slowed and declines have halted for prostate cancer. However, in men, declines in lung cancer have moved from 3% annually between 2008 and 2013 to 5% between 2013 and 2017; for women, this has changed from 2% to nearly 4%. Despite this, lung cancer still caused more deaths in 2017 than breast, prostate, colorectal, and brain cancers combined.

The report also highlighted recent mortality declines for melanoma of the skin, with about a 7% annual reduction between 2013 and 2017 compared with 1% annually between 2006 and 2010 for men and women aged 50 to 64 years.