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Expand chart
Data: ACS' Cancer Statistics, 2019; Note: "Poor" counties are those in which the poverty rate is between 21.18% and 53.95%, while "rich" counties have poverty rates between 1.81% and 10.84%. Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

American deaths from cancer dropped 27% overall from 1991 to 2016, and racial disparities are slowly narrowing, according to a major new report from the American Cancer Society.

Yes, but: This isn't the same for all Americans or the case for all cancers. The gap in the success rate is widening between socioeconomic groups, particularly in preventable cancers. And deaths from some cancers, mostly related to obesity, continue to rise.

The good news:

  • There were roughly 2.6 million fewer cancer deaths over that 25-year period than would have happened if the peak rates in 1991 had remained the same, Rebecca Siegel, report author and ACS' strategic director of surveillance information services, tells Axios.
  • The 4 major cancers — lung, breast, prostate and colorectal — all show declines. (Lung cancer deaths have decreased since 1991, but the Axios chart above shows an overall increase since 1970 due to the majority of women smokers picking up the habit later than men.)
  • The declines in the 4 cancers are mainly due to less smoking and advances in early detection and treatment, Siegel says.
  • The racial disparity is lessening. Black people had death rates 33% higher than white people in 1993, but that gap dropped to 14% in 2016.
  • Survival rates for most cancers have improved, except for lung and pancreatic cancers, which tend to be diagnosed at a more advanced stage.

The bad news:

  • Cancer remained the second leading cause of death in the U.S in 2016.
  • The socioeconomic gap in cancer mortality is growing, Siegel says. For example, poor women have twice as many deaths from cervical cancer than affluent women — and this is mostly preventable. Lung and liver cancer mortality also is more than 40% higher in poor men compared to affluent men.
"Poor people have less access to quality health care. Not only are they unable to get systematic screenings, but treatment options are oftentimes not the highest quality."
— Rebecca Siegel
  • Incidence rates have increased for melanoma and cancers of the liver, thyroid, uterine corpus and pancreas — and some of this has been linked to the obesity epidemic, Siegel adds.
  • Prostate cancer deaths, which had been dropping, have recently flattened.

Of note: The impacts of the Affordable Care Act on prevention and treatment and the HPV vaccine on cervical cancer rates are not yet included in these statistics. "Death from cervical cancers is very preventable. [And yet,] almost 10 women per week in their 20s and 30s died from cervical cancer in 2016," Siegel says.

The bottom line: If disadvantaged groups could have better access to regular screenings and better treatments, cancer deaths would continue to decline for all Americans, Siegel says. "Many of these deaths are unnecessary."

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”

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