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Largest drop ever in US cancer mortality rates, new study shows

Published on 09/01/20 at 09:39am

The overall cancer mortality rate in the US fell by 2.2% from 2016 to 2017, the largest ever annual decline recorded by the American Cancer Society (ACS).

The study was published this week in A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. It shows that the overall cancer death rate rose in the US until 1991, then fell continuously through to 2017. This resulting in a decline of 29% in cancer mortality rates which translated roughly to 2.9 million less deaths.

The report also found that there was a decline in melanoma mortality rates following FDA approvals of new treatments. It also showed steep declines in prostate cancer mortality rates, but these have stabilised in recent years.

The main driver in the decrease in mortality rates was lung cancer. Its decline reached 3% annually from 2008 to 2013, and then 5% from 2013 to 2017 in men, and from 2% to 4% in women. New treatments, surgeries and the number of smokers reaching its smallest amount ever in America, all contributed to this.

This trend is set to increase even further, especially in lung cancer. The current data is unlikely to reflect on the new immunotherapies, such as Merck & Co’s Keytruda (pembrolizumab), but it will factor into decreasing morality rates from cancer.

Conor Kavanagh

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