GREAT FALLS — The American Cancer Society reported recently that the death rate from cancer in the United States declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop ever recorded, according to annual statistics.
The decline in deaths from lung cancer drove the record drop. Deaths fell from about 3% per year from 2008 - 2013 to 5% from 2013 - 2017 in men and from 2% to almost 4% in women. However, lung cancer is still the leading cause of cancer death.
The decline in the death rate over the past 26 years has been steady. Overall cancer death rates dropped by an average of 1.5% per year between 2008 and 2017. This translates to more than 2.9 million deaths avoided since 1991, when rates were at their highest. A total of 1,806,590 new cancer cases and 606,520 deaths are expected in the US in 2020, which is about 4,950 new cases and more than 1,600 deaths each day.
Oncologist Bryan Martin at Benefis Health System in Great Falls says it's been an improvement.
“It's clear that in the past decade and certainly in the past several years we’re seeing a drop in the incidence of lung cancer, and more importantly and improvement and treated. We are very pleased to see improving outcomes in terms of survival, the survivability of many cancers, but certainly lung cancer has been one of our success stories."
The study notes that lung cancer has dropped 51 percent since 1990 in men and by 26 percent since 2002 in women.