According to the data, the overall cancer mortality rate dropped by about a third (32%) from its peak in 1991 to 2019, from about 215 deaths for every 100,000 people to about 146, with about 3.5 million deaths during that time. Much of that decline can be attributed to a drop in mortality among lung cancer patients.
The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be about 1.9 million new cancer diagnoses and more than 609,000 cancer deaths per day in the United States in 2022, including about 350 deaths per day from lung cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer deaths. is the main reason.
In 2019, nearly one in four cancer deaths were among lung cancer patients, but lung cancer deaths are declining faster than the overall trends. The death rate from lung cancer declined by about 5% each year between 2015 and 2019, while the overall cancer mortality rate fell by about 2% over that time.
Experts say that the continuing downward trend is cause for optimism.
“I’m an oncologist, so I’m a fervent optimist. But I think the important message to the public is that there is room for optimism in all types of cancer,” said Dr. Deb Schrag, chair of the Department of Medicine. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Continued progress in flattening the curve will require a three-pronged approach, with strong, integrated efforts for prevention, screening and treatment, she said.
As the American Cancer Society reports, programs targeted at smoking prevention or cessation can have a major impact, as can annual screenings.
“The data really tells us in every possible way that quitting smoking at any level of habit, at any age, at any time, is impactful to one’s health,” Karen Knudsen, CEO of the American Cancer Society, told CNN.
“Studies have shown that for someone who has cancer, regardless of the cancer – lung cancer or any other cancer – if they quit smoking at the time of cancer diagnosis, it is strongly associated with a better outcome. Therefore, smoking cessation is important not only to prevent cancer, but also to give yourself the greatest possible chance of a good outcome if you are being treated for cancer.”
And while lung cancer screening has increased slightly recently – from 2% of eligible people in 2010 to 5% in 2018 – the impact has been huge.
About 28% of lung cancer diagnoses in 2018 were found early in the “localized stage”, up from 17% in 2004. And more than 30% of patients were living at least three years before their diagnosis, up from 21%.
The increase in screening for all types of cancer is important, Knudsen told CNN.
“Even before Covid, screening was not intensified where it was needed for the American public,” she said, with the worst lung cancer screening.
In his previous role at a cancer center designated by the National Cancer Institute, Knudsen said he noticed that screening stopped every time at the peak of COVID-19 cases. But these delayed screenings could lead to thousands of preventable deaths in the coming years, and it is “serious” that individuals create a screening plan.
“For all individuals, what I hope is that they feel empowered to have a conversation with their primary care physician – I cannot stress this enough – to ask ‘what about my personal history? What is the right screening plan for me based on my family history and, if I know it, my genetic history?'”
While lung cancer is the most common overall and causes the most deaths in men and women, prostate cancer is the most common type in men and breast cancer is the most common type in women, according to the report.
Advanced-stage diagnoses are increasing for both prostate cancer and breast cancer, both of which can be detected early. And cervical cancer still causes thousands of deaths, despite being almost completely preventable.
Advances in treatment are able to effect change in a more immediate way than change in health behavior.
More broadly, precision medicine — understanding the molecular drivers or genetic characteristics of cancers and treating them more strategically — and immunotherapies developed through a better understanding of the immune system have been “game changers,” Schrag said.
Improvements in life expectancy after lung cancer diagnosis were mostly among those with non-small cell lung cancer and in terms of treatment, video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, as well as medical treatments such as diagnostic and surgical Inspired by advances in medical procedures. As an immunotherapy approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2015.
But the trend in cancer deaths is largely driven by changes in lifestyle and care over the course of decades, experts say.
“For example, when we see gains today and a steady decline in lung cancer deaths, some of it is because smoking rates began to decline 20 and 30 years ago,” Schrag said. “We’re taking advantage of some of them today.”
Not all long-term effects are positive. Racial and socio-demographic disparities in cancer incidence and death rates also persist because of the long-lasting effects of systemic racism in the United States, reports the American Cancer Society.
According to statistics from the American Cancer Society, black patients have a lower five-year survival rate than white patients for most types of cancer, and black women have a higher cancer mortality rate than any other group. Is. While the incidence rate of breast cancer is 4% lower in black women than in white women, the death rate for breast cancer is 41% higher among black women.