According to the latest report from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), ‘Cancer Progress Report 2017,’ the number of people dying from cancer is continuing its decline. This is great news, but how large is the drop? Looking back at 1990, there were cancer 214.95 deaths per 100,000 U.S. adults, whereas in 2014 that number dropped to 161.3. That’s a 25% change! For children, it’s even better. In 1990 there were 3.4 cancer deaths per 100,000 children, whereas in 2014 there were 2.2, which is a 35% change. According to the AACR report, that’s 2.1 million cancer deaths avoided in that time.
In other great news, the five year relative survival rate for all cancers in the U.S. rose from 49% in the 1970’s to 69% in 2013. The AACR believes the declining death rate is due to research advances resulting in new therapies for cancer, such as nine new anticancer therapeutic agents approved by the U.S. FDA. The FDA has also approved a new optical imaging agent and new applications for eight previously approved cancer therapies.
It’s been known for a while that patients who receive their cancer diagnosis earliest as possible are the most likely to survive long term. To put into perspective, the five year survival rate for female breast cancer is nearly 100% if it is diagnosed when the disease is entirely confined to the breast, compared with less than 30% when it has metastasized to distant sites.
Cancer, however much progress is made by the medical community, is still a formidable foe. It is predicted by the AACR that 1.7 million men and women will be diagnosed with the disease in the U.S. in 2017, and 601,000 will die from it. As of 2017, the deadliest cancers are lung and bronchus cancer, which claimed 156,000 lives so far this year, followed by cancer of the colon and rectum, claiming 50,000 lives. Lastly is pancreatic cancer, which claimed 43,000 lives.
Sadly, not all news on the cancer front is as great. Death rates have been falling steadily for commonly diagnosed cancers in the U.S. such as breast, colorectal, lung, and prostate, but others such as brain, liver, and uterine cancer have risen.
The association projected that the number of new U.S. cancer cases diagnosed each year will double by 2030, when it is expected to hit 2.3 million cases. This rise is due to the aging U.S. population and continued use of cigarettes, as well as high rates of obesity and physical inactivity.
While it is fantastic news that certain cancer death rates have been dropping, the medical community needs to be as diligent as possible when it comes to tackling all cancers, and the U.S. population at large needs to remember to take preventative measures to maintain overall health and well-being also.