American Cancer Society, Jan, 9, 2017, Cancer Statistics 2017, an annual report by the American Cancer Society (ACS) and published in CA: Cancer Journal for Clinicians shows that there has been a consistent decline in the number of people dying from cancer since 1991. In 1991, 215.1 per 100,000 of the population succumbed to cancer, whereas in 2014 161.2 per 100,000 passed on. This represents a 25% drop from the 1991 figures, which have been the highest figures yet recorded. The annual report that includes metrics such as cancer incidence, death rate, and survival used data up to 2014, which is the last year with up to date data ready for analysis.

A 25% drop in cancer related deaths over two decades means that 2.1 million fewer deaths have been reported between 1991 and 2014. In the report, Otis W. Brawley, M.D, FACP, the chief medical officer of ACS remarked, “The continuing drops in the cancer death rate are a powerful sign of the potential we have to reduce cancer’s deadly toll.” He went on, “Continuing that success will require more clinical and basic research to improve early detection and treatment, as well as creative new strategies to increase healthy behaviors nationwide. Finally, we need to consistently apply existing knowledge in cancer control across all segments of the population, particularly to disadvantaged groups.

The decline in death rates has been attributed to cutting down on smoking and the improvement of early detection and therapeutic interventions over the years. There have been steady reductions in cancer related deaths in the most common sites for cancer occurrence in the human body: the lung, breast, prostate and colorectal (colon and rectum). Cancer related deaths associated with the lung decreased by 43% (1990-2014) in males and 17% (2002-2014) in women. There was a 38% reduction in deaths from breast cancer from 1989 to 2014 and a 51% reduction in Prostate and Colorectal cancers (1993 to 2014 for prostate cancer, 1976 to 2014 for colorectal cancer).

The report also highlighted the fact that there are gender and racial differences in cancer incidence and cancer related deaths. For all the four common sites, the incidence rate for cancer is 20% higher in men, while the mortality rate is 40% higher in males. There are racial differences in cancer related deaths, with blacks and Hispanics suffering more than whites. The good news is that the excess risk of death from cancer in black men has gone down by 26% points from 47% in 1990 to 21% in 2014. The difference between white and black women went down 7% points from 20% in 1998 to 13% in 2014.

In the report, 2017 is estimated to have 1,688,780 new cancer cased and 600,290 cancer related deaths in the United States. It has also shown that the overall cancer incidence rate has gone down by 2% every year in men while remaining static for women in the last ten years. The cancer death rate has declined by 1.5% every year for both genders.