AP NEWS

The cancer death rate has dropped again. Here’s why.

January 4, 2018

The nation’s overall cancer death rate declined 1.7 percent in 2015, the latest indication of steady, long-term progress against the disease, according to a new report by the American Cancer Society.

Over nearly a quarter-century, the mortality rate has fallen 26 percent, resulting in almost 2.4 million fewer deaths than if peak rates had continued.

But the report, released Thursday, shows that Americans’ No. 2 killer remains a formidable, sometimes implacable, foe. An estimated 609,000 people are expected to die of the ailment this year, while 1.74 million will be diagnosed with it.

Cancer Statistics 2018, the organization’s annual look at incidence, mortality and survival, tracks the decadeslong decline in mortality as driven largely by falling death rates among four malignancies - lung, breast, prostate and colorectal cancer.

Ahmedin Jemal, the group’s vice president for surveillance and health services research, said the decreases largely reflect reduced smoking and advances in prevention, early detection and treatment.

Overall, the cancer death rate has dropped from 215.1 per 100,000 population in 1991 to 158.6 per 100,000 in 2015. U.S. rates of cancer incidence over the past decade were stable for women and decreased by about 2 percent annually for men.

Still, the lifetime probability of being diagnosed with the disease is slightly higher for men than for women, with adult height accounting for about a third of the difference. Studies have shown that taller people have a greater risk of cancer.