Mortality rates from cancer are continuing their steady decline in the U.S., thanks largely to a gradual reduction in smoking and improvements in early detection and treatment. Over the past decade, cancer death rates dropped by 1.5 percent annually, slightly better than earlier improvements, according to the American Cancer Society’s 2019 report. The overall death rate has dropped 27 percent since 1991, which translates into more than 2.6 million fewer cancer deaths.
The decline has been driven by the most common cancers—lung, breast, prostate, and colorectal. For lung cancer, the death rate dropped 48 percent for men and 23 percent for women; for breast cancer, 40 percent; for prostate and colorectal cancer, about 50 percent.
In contrast, death rates have risen for liver, endometrial, and brain cancers.
Cancer is still expected to kill 606,000 Americans this year, accounting for about one-fifth of all deaths.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
Also see Racial Gap in Cervical Cancer Deaths.