The rate of cancer deaths in the United States hit a record drop of 2.4% in 2018, marking a record for the second year in a row and contributing to a drop of 31% since 1990, the American Cancer Society announced Tuesday.
The organization linked the progress – which equates to about 3.2 million fewer deaths – to less smoking and continued progress in the treatment of lung cancer, which accounts for almost 50% of the total deaths from 2014 to 2018.
The total cancer mortality among men and women in 2018 was 149 cases per. 100,000 people.
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“Improved treatment accelerated advances in lung cancer and led to a record drop in overall cancer mortality despite a slower pace for other common cancers,”
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the country after heart disease, though it still poses the biggest threat among Hispanic, Asian Americans and Native Americans, according to the report.
The American Cancer Society also expected 608,570 cancer deaths in 2021 with nearly 1.9 million new diagnoses or 5,200 new cases daily. However, these estimates have not taken into account the COVID-19 pandemic, such as interruptions of screenings and care.
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“The effect of COVID-19 on cancer diagnoses and outcomes at the population level will be unknown for several years due to the time required for data collection, compilation, quality control and dissemination,” Rebecca Siegel, lead author, said in a statement. “We anticipate that disruptions in access to cancer care by 2020 will lead to increasing downstream in advanced diagnoses that may hinder progress in reducing cancer mortality in the coming years.”
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Dr. William Cance, medical and scientific officer of the American Cancer Society, expressed concern about “persistent racial, socioeconomic and geographical differences” for preventable cancers.
“There is a continuing need for increased investment in equivalent cancer control interventions and clinical research to create more advanced treatment options to help accelerate progress in the fight against cancer,” Cance said.
According to the report, “survival rates are lower for black patients than whites for every cancer except the pancreas and kidney, for which they are the same.”
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It is noted that colorectal cancer surpassed leukemia in 2018 as one of the leading causes of cancer deaths among younger men aged 20 to 39.
By 2021, prostate cancer is expected to account for the largest percentage of new diagnoses among men at 26% (or about 248,000 cases). Among women, it is estimated that breast cancer accounts for 30% of the new diagnoses, with lung and colon cancer following for both sexes at approx. 12% and 8%.