Cancer deaths across the United States have dropped by 25 percent overall since 1991, according to a new study published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. However, oncology experts say this progress has been incredibly uneven—gender and racial disparities still exist, and the rate of liver cancer deaths continues to rise across the country, Medscape reports.
The journal’s Cancer Statistics 2017 report used data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program, the National Program of Cancer Registries and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries to project the number of new cancer diagnoses likely to be made in 2017 and data from the National Center for Health Statistics to compare mortality rates over the same year.
The data showed that cancer-related deaths peaked in the United States 25 years ago and have decreased 1 to 2 percent every year since then. That’s equivalent to 2.1 million cancer deaths prevented over this time period. The report attributed the decline to a steady reduction in smoking as well as medical advances in cancer detection and treatment.
At the same time, however, the study also found that annual liver cancer rates are increasing by about 3 percent in women and 4 percent in men. Researchers attributed the gender disparity to the fact that men have higher rates of hepatitis C virus (HCV) and are more likely than women to drink alcohol, which increases liver cancer risk.
The report also showed that overall incidence rates of cancer are about 20 percent higher in men than in women and that mortality rates are approximately 40 percent higher in men after a cancer diagnosis. Cancer-related mortality was also 15 percent higher among African Americans than among white people in the United States. However, considering that the racial disparity between white people and Black people was as large as 47 percent in 1990, this gap has been narrowing.
Researchers estimated that the number of new cancer cases diagnosed this year will total 1,688,780, or 4,600 new cancer diagnoses a day. For women, cancers most likely to cause death include lung and bronchus cancers, breast cancer and colorectal cancer. For men, the most common cause of cancer death will also involve lung and bronchus cancer, prostate and colorectal cancer.
According to the report, an estimated 600,000 of these individuals will die from cancer in 2017.