The United States experienced its biggest single-year drop in the cancer death rate ever from 2016 to 2017, the American Cancer Society revealed in a new report Wednesday.
The number of cancer deaths in the country went down by 2.2% in that timeframe — a number propelled by a decrease in deaths from lung cancer.
Much of the new report focused on the years between 1991 and 2017.
“The decline in the death rate over the past 26 years has been steady,” reads an excerpt of the organization’s 2020 statistics report. “Overall cancer death rates dropped by an average of 1.5% per year between 2008 and 2017. This translates to more than 2.9 million deaths avoided since 1991, when rates were at their highest.”
The momentous decline since 1991 is the result of drops in death rate for lung, colorectal, breast, prostate cancers, which are the four most-prominent types.
The rate of deaths due to lung cancer went down by 51% among men from 1990 to 2017. From 2002 to 2017, meanwhile, the death rate due to lung cancer went down by 26% among women.
Lung cancer is still the leading cause of deaths related to cancer, but the progress revealed in the American Cancer Society’s latest report is encouraging for professionals.
“Certainly this is a really exciting time in oncology due to rapid developments taking place in many areas of cancer,” reads a statement by Dr. Mark Awad of the Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
“Lung cancer remains the number one cause of cancer death both in men and women in the United States, as well as globally, and so any progress that we make in reducing lung cancer mortality will have an impact on overall cancer death rates."