Jan 8, 2020

Cancer death rates drop by largest amount on record in U.S.

Photo: Harry Sieplinga/Getty Images

American Cancer Society researchers revealed in a new report published Wednesday that the U.S. cancer death rate dropped 2.2% between 2016 and 2017, the largest decline recorded in national cancer statistics dating back to 1930, AP reports.

The big picture via Axios' Bob Herman: Lung cancer drove most of the decline, as fewer people smoke cigarettes, and advanced lung cancer treatments become standard. Lung cancer accounts for nearly a quarter of all cancer deaths, according to the lead author of the report, Rebecca Siegel.

  • Cancer death rates had been falling by roughly 1.5% every year since 1991.

Why now: Experts say there have been many advances in treatment, specifically in surgery, diagnostic scanning and more exact uses of radiation, AP notes.

  • The overall cancer death rate dropped 30% from 1991 to 2017, per Cancer Society researchers.
  • A decline in death rates associated with breast, colon and prostate cancer is also slowing, AP writes.

Worth noting: Government researchers have reported a slightly lower fall in cancer deaths for the same period, but the Cancer Society calculates the death rate differently, per AP.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Scientists map out and "carbon date" cancer genomes in huge studies

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

An international collaboration of scientists announced Wednesday they have mapped out the cancer genome and also developed a new method of "carbon dating" cancer tumors to determine what and when mutations occurred that led to a person's cancer.

Why it matters: This meta-analysis of the whole genome is the first building block of a knowledge base that the scientists hope will help clinicians determine the precise treatment needed by individual patients — assuming the costs of sequencing and running algorithm programs continue to decline.

Go deeperArrowFeb 6, 2020 - Science

Trump says he wants to award Rush Limbaugh with Presidential Medal of Freedom

Trump and Limbaugh at a Missouri rally in 2018. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump plans to award conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom "as soon as next week," Politico reports.

Driving the news: Limbaugh, 69, announced on air Monday that he's been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer and is seeking treatment. As one of the country's most influential conservative radio hosts over the past two decades, he has featured Trump on his show several times.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she is starting 2020 "cancer free"

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Photo: Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Berggruen Institute

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told CNN she is starting the year "cancer free," after suffering from a series of health complications in recent years.

The big picture: The 86-year-old is the longest-serving member of the court's liberal wing and has been treated for cancer twice in just over a year, including a treatment that forced her to miss oral arguments for the first time in her career.

Go deeper: Ginsburg says historians will view today's political climate as "an aberration"