While it might not seem like it when you check the news in the morning, some things really are getting better. Total deaths from cancer in the U.S. have reached a new low in the U.S, according to a new report from the American Cancer Society. The study found cancer deaths dropped by 27 percent between 1991 and 2016, a steady decline of 1.5 percent a year, resulting in an estimated 2.6 million fewer cancer deaths.
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The news can be attributed to effective campaigns to reduce smoking, a bad habit that can lead to lung cancer, the most deadly type of cancer. It’s also due to advancements in cancer detection and treatment, according to the study published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
Rebecca Siegel, the study’s lead author, told CNN the results weren’t what she was expecting.
“The continued decline in the cancer death rate over the past 25 years is really good news and was a little bit of a surprise, only because the other leading causes of death in the US are starting to flatten. So we’ve been wondering if that’s going to happen for cancer as well, but so far it hasn’t.”
‘A Long Way to Go’
While the results of this study are uplifting, cancer is still extremely dangerous. Researchers expect 2019 to bring 1.76 million new cancer cases in the U.S. and over 600,000 cancer deaths. Of those deaths, men are more likely to die from lung, prostate and colorectal cancer, while women die primarily from lung, breast and colorectal cancer.
2019 also brings new challenges that those a quarter century ago didn’t have as often. The rise in obesity rates has led to an increase in endometrial cancer, which is a cause of worry for the ACS.
“We are probably only seeing the tip of the iceberg regarding the influence of the obesity epidemic on cancer rates,” Siegel told The Wall Street Journal.
Colorectal, melanoma, liver, thyroid, uterine and pancreatic cancer have also unfortunately been on the rise as of late.
Noel Weiss, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington who wasn’t involved with the study, acknowledged the good news of the study but admitted there’s still plenty of work to be done.
“There is still a long way to go,” Weiss told The WSJ. “A reduction in cancer mortality does not mean it is zero or even close to zero. Cancer is still one of the leading causes of death among Americans.”