A 22 Percent Drop in Cancer Mortality Saved 1.5 Million People

First Posted: Dec 31, 2014 09:35 AM EST

There's some good news when it comes to cancer. The American Cancer Society's annual cancer statistics report has found that there's been a 22 percent drop in cancer mortality over two decades that's led to the avoidance of more than 1.5 million cancer deaths.

Each year, the American Cancer Society compiles the most recent data on cancer incidence, mortality and survival based on incidence data from the National Cancer institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics. In this case, the researchers found that driven by a rapid increase in lung cancer deaths among men, the overall cancer death rate rose during most of the 20th century and peaked in 1991. There was then a steady decline in cancer death rates due to fewer Americans smoking.

"The continuing drops we're seeing in cancer mortality are reason to celebrate, but not to stop," said Johnn Seffrin, chief executive officers of the American Cancer Society, in a news release.  "Cancer was responsible for nearly one in four deaths in the United States in 2011, making it the second leading cause of death overall. It is already the leading cause of death among adults aged 40 to 79, and is expected to overtake heart disease as the leading cause of death among all Americans within the next several years. The change may be inevitable, but we can still lessen cancer's deadly impact by making sure as many Americans as possible have access to the best tools to prevent, detect and treat cancer."

The findings show how cancer rates have dropped. That said, there's still a ways to go. Improvements continue to be made when it comes to treating cancer, and it's likely that these methods will only improve.

The findings are published in A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

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