Jan 12, 2022 - Health

Cancer death rate falls 32% since peak in 1991

IV drip seen in foreground while young man lays in hospital bed.
A cancer patient receives IV chemotherapy treatment. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The cancer death rate fell by 32% between 1991 and 2019, according to an American Cancer Society report released Wednesday.

Why it matters: The latest figures show the overall risk of dying from cancer continues to drop at an accelerating rate.

  • The falling mortality rate translates to about 3.5 million fewer cancer deaths over the 28-year period than had the rate stayed the same, the ACS notes in a press release.

Details: The ACS attributes the drop in part to earlier detection of lung cancer and the fact that patients with the disease are living longer after diagnosis.

  • The report also credits increased access to screening and care, declining rates of smoking and newly available combination therapies.
  • Rates of liver cancer, one of the most deadly, have also stabilized, when only a few years ago it was one the fastest increasing cancer, per ACS.

Caveat: The newly reported figures don't account for the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has likely had on cancer diagnoses and deaths, the ACS notes.

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