Well-Being Prevention & Cures

Cancer deaths continue to drop in US

(fizkes/iStock)

Story at a glance

  • The American Cancer Society in January projected that 609,360 deaths from cancer — or roughly 1,670 deaths per day — will occur in the U.S. in 2022.
  • The death rate from cancer for men and women combined has decreased 32 percent from its peaks from 1991-2019.
  • The decline is the result of changes in habits, new approaches to cancer treatments and early detection.

Though cancer remains the second-leading cause of death in the United States, cancer deaths in the U.S. are still on a steady decline.  

The American Cancer Society in January projected that 609,360 deaths from cancer — or roughly 1,670 deaths per day — will occur in the U.S. in 2022, and 1.9 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed. Despite these harrowing predictions, the death rate due to cancer for men and women combined has decreased 32 percent from its peaks from 1991-2019.   

A recent study, published in the January/February issue of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, examined the American Cancer Society’s data to determine which cancers are benefitting from these declines and what interventions could possibly be responsible for them. 


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Some of these declines are thanks to changes in habits. Lung cancer, for example, is responsible for 20 percent of all cancer deaths in the U.S. However, incidences of lung cancer have decreased as fewer people smoke, with lung cancer mortalities also declining.    

“Declines in mortality began shortly thereafter,” the study’s lead author Rebecca Siegel said. According to the study, calculations show that 80 percent of 2022’s projected lung cancer deaths will occur in smokers.    

Approaches to cancer treatment have also made great strides. Combination therapies have been increasingly utilized and successful in treating a variety of cancers, such as adjuvant chemotherapies — chemotherapy following surgery or radiation — for treating colon and breast cancers. Similarly, targeted therapies, in which specific molecules that determine how the cancer grows and spreads are targeted, are also becoming more frequent.   

Equally notable strides have been made in early cancer detection, with early intervention a critical aspect of lowering the mortality rate. Though it has stagnated a bit in recent years, mammograms are crucial to the early detection of breast cancer. The female breast cancer mortality rate has declined 42 percent since its peak in 1989.    

Comparably, early detection of prostate cancer, though also somewhat stagnant, is responsible for a 53 percent drop in mortalities since 1993.   

“The overall drop of 32% as of 2019 translates to an estimated 3,495,700 fewer cancer deaths than if mortality had remained at peak rates,” said Siegel. 


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