Cancer Deaths Have Dropped 26% in Recent Years

From TIME - January 4, 2018

Since 1991, the cancer death rate has dropped by 26%, according to the latest data from the American Cancer Society (ACS). That decline represents nearly 2.4 million lives saved from cancer.

The decreasing death rate continues a downward trend in mortality from the disease, which ACS experts say is due to a combination of factors. One of the biggest forces behind the decline is a reduction in smoking, thanks to public health campaigns warning of its dangers, and tobacco taxes that discourage people from picking up the habit. While lung cancer remains a leading cause of cancer death, death rates have dropped by 45% among men from 1990 to 2015 and by 19% among women from 2002 to 2015.

Other prevention strategiesincluding screening tests, such as mammograms for breast cancer, blood tests for prostate cancer and colonoscopy for colon canceralso contribute to lower death rates. Advances in treatment have also played a big role in bringing new diagnoses of cancer down, as well as reducing deaths from the disease.

But lately, studies have questioned the effectiveness of two major screening methods: the mammogram for detecting breast cancer and the blood-based prostate specific antigen (PSA) test for prostate cancer. Some studies failed to show that these screening tests were associated with a reduction in deaths from those cancers; at the same time, they led to an increase in false positive results that require additional testing that can put women at risk of complications and anxiety about their health.


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