For the 25th consecutive year, the cancer mortality rate in the United States has declined, according to The American Cancer Society's annual report on cancer rates and trends. For instance, cervical cancer mortality was 40 percent higher for women living in poor counties than for women in affluent counties, and lung and liver cancer in men showed the same trend, according to a statement from the American Cancer Society.
"The continued decline in the cancer death rate over the past 25 years is really good news and was a little bit of a surprise, only because the other leading causes of death in the United States are starting to flatten". Lung cancer is one of the most lethal diseases in men and women, along with colorectal cancer.
The report's authors predicted 1.76 million new cancer diagnoses and 607,000 cancer deaths in the U.S.in 2019, according to The WSJ.
In fact, cancer deaths dropped 27 percent from 1991 to 2016, according to the report.
Looking forward, the researchers forecast around 1.8 million new cancer cases in 2019, which would be in line with the most recent numbers. Although the racial gap in cancer deaths is slowly narrowing, socioeconomic inequalities are widening. Moreover, the study only looked at a subset of cases. That's a decrease of 1.5% each year.
The study had some limitations, including that the projections should be interpreted with caution because they were based on data from three to four years ago. Other risk factors for liver cancer include obesity, heavy drinking, and smoking.
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But it's not all good news.
Still, the decline in cancer-related mortality does not affect the entire American population equally. "We must work to ensure every patient has access to cancer care that reflects their individual needs as well as the opportunity to participate in research and contribute to progress". Brain and nervous system tumors make up 26% of pediatric cancers, yet they are the most common diagnoses among adolescents (aged 15 to 19 years), accounting for 21% of adolescent cancer cases.
"I would say that this is the best data out there for the oncology community and those concerned with healthcare in America", said Theodorescu, who was not involved in the study. "This report also highlights our long-standing concerns about the underrepresentation of individuals from lower socioeconomic populations in cancer clinical trials and the access to treatment advances these trials may provide", Bertagnolli said.
But the decline in deaths is not across the board for all types of cancer.
Meanwhile, some cancers that have been linked to obesity, including liver and pancreatic, showed signs of an increase.
Some of the counties with the highest poverty are in rural areas of south Georgia, and "this is something that we've become aware of here at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University", Curran said. "So it's a multi-factorial issue that we view as a real critical issue in the cancer world right now".