Study: Cancer deaths remain steady

Cancer Statistics, 2017 report published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians states the death rate from all cancers combined in the United States has dropped by 25 percent during the past 25 years.

“Cancer death rates peaked in the United States in 1991 and they've gone down 1 to 2 percent every year ever since,” Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer with the American Cancer Society said in an audio clip news release.

“That actually equates to 2.1 million cancer deaths that did not happen over that time period and the drop is the result of a steady reduction in smoking as well as advances in early detection and treatment.”

Researchers estimated in 2017 that 1,688,780 new invasive cancers will be diagnosed in the U.S. — more than 4,600 new diagnoses each day. They estimate 600,920 Americans will die from cancer this year.

The most likely causes of death among women will include lung, bronchus, breast, and colorectal cancers. For men, the most common cause of cancer death will include lung, bronchus, colorectum, and prostate.

Overall, invasive cancer rates are about 20 percent higher in men than in women, and mortality rates are approximately 40 percent higher in men. These higher rates are at least in part due to men having higher rates of liver cancer. Men also are more likely to develop cancer of the esophagus, larynx, and bladder, all associated with high mortality rates.

The five-year relative survival rate for lung cancer continues to be poor — only 18 percent — and it's even worse for pancreatic cancer (8 percent).

“One of the things that we've not done really well in the United States is actually work to prevent cancer,” Dr. Brawley said.

“So much of our focus has been on screening for it and treating cancer, we've not done that as well as we should have, but we certainly have not done the aspect of prevention as well as we should have. I really wish that we could have a greater emphasis on coaching people on diet and exercise and a greater emphasis on coaching people regarding not smoking or if they are smoking, how to stop smoking,”