U.S. cancer death rate hits milestone

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Due to the significant decline in smoking and an increase in advances for early cancer detection and screening, the cancer death rate has declined 27% in the United States from 1991 to 2016, according to the American Cancer Society's annual report on cancer rates.

Siegel added that this progress has translated to "2.6 million fewer cancer deaths during this time period than would have been expected if rates had remained at their peak".

Although cancer was still the second leading killer in 2016, the study revealed a decline in deaths from the four major types of cancer: lung, breast, prostate, and colorectal. The deaths from cancer for every 100,000 people dropped from a peak of 215 in 1991 to 156 in 2016.

In fact, cancer deaths dropped 27 percent from 1991 to 2016, according to the report. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city will expand health coverage to an estimated 600,000 residents now without insurance, The Washington Post reported. The statistics show that cancer death rates in the poorest areas of the United States was around 20% higher than elsewhere, suggesting that socioeconomic factors are playing a big role in who benefits from early diagnosis and treatment.

The nation's cancer death rate was increasing until the early 1990s.

Racial and Ethnic Disparities According to the report, the cancer death rate was 14% higher in blacks than in whites in 2016.

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The American Cancer Society also annually estimates the numbers of new cancer cases and cancer deaths that could occur nationwide, based on the most recent data. That corresponds to more than 4,800 new cases and nearly 1,700 deaths per day, according to the study. But now obesity accounts for a third of liver cancer deaths, and is more of a factor than hepatitis, Siegel said.

Cancer is the second most common cause of death among children ages 1 to 14 years in the U.S., after accidents.

The new study does a "very good job" summarizing those trends, said Dr. Walter Curran, executive director of the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in Atlanta, who was not involved in the study.

Still, the decline in cancer-related mortality does not affect the entire American population equally. 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. "Getting to the oncologist often takes longer and options may be more limited", he said. However, smoking patterns do not appear to explain the higher lung cancer rates being reported in women compared with men born around the 1960s.

Lower smoking rates are translating into fewer deaths.

Of the most common types of cancer in the US, all the ones with increasing death rates are linked to obesity, including cancers of the thyroid, pancreas and uterus.

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