Progress on Lung Cancer Drives Overall Decline in U.S. Cancer Deaths

WEDNESDAY, January 12, 2022 – A new report offers hope on the lung cancer front: Patients are diagnosed earlier in their disease and live longer because of improved access to care, higher screening rates, and better treatments.

The researchers discovered that this leads to lower rates of cancer in general.

However, lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in the country, according to the American Cancer Society’s annual cancer statistics report released Wednesday.

“We are pleased to see a significant and sustained reduction in overall cancer mortality, as a result of increased awareness, data-driven prevention strategies, and improvements in early detection and treatment,” CEO Karen Knudsen said in a press release for the American Cancer Society.

In 2018, 28% of lung cancers were detected at a localized stage, compared to 17% in 2004. Nearly a third (31%) of lung cancer patients are now alive three years after diagnosis, compared to 21% a decade ago from time.

But lung cancer still causes 350 deaths per day – more than breast, prostate and pancreatic cancers combined – and is responsible for the most cancer deaths to date, according to the report.

Smoking is associated with 80% of lung cancer deaths, but there will be an estimated 20,700 lung cancer deaths in 2022 that are not related to smoking.

The report found that sharp declines in lung cancer deaths led to larger declines in total cancer deaths in the United States, from a decline of about 1% per year in the late 1990s to 1.5% per year during the 2000s and 2% per year from 2015 to 2019.

The five-year survival rate for all cancers combined increased from 49% in the mid-1970s to 68%.

In 2022, the United States will have an estimated 1.9 million new cancer diagnoses and more than 609,000 cancer deaths. The lifetime probability of being diagnosed with invasive carcinoma is 40.2% for men and 38.5% for women.

Besides the positive findings, the report noted a number of areas of concern. For example, cervical cancer is almost completely preventable, but more than 10 American women die from the disease every day, half of them in their 50s or younger.

“Despite the accelerating decline in cancer mortality overall, including recent exciting advances against lung cancer, it is disappointing to see thousands of preventable deaths each year,” said Rebecca Siegel, senior scientific director for surveillance research at American College of Medicine. due to cervical cancer. Cancer Society.

“Most of these women have never been screened, so this is a fruit that could easily be addressed by increasing access to screening and immunization among disadvantaged women,” Siegel said in the statement.

And while the overall rate of prostate cancer is stable, the incidence of advanced prostate cancer increased by 4%-6% annually from 2014 to 2018, likely due to the decline in PSA test use, according to the report.

It also found that the incidence of breast cancer has been rising at about 0.5% per year since the mid-2000s, and that there are persistent racial, social, economic, and regional disparities in rates of highly preventable cancers.

“These new statistics remind us that every person should undergo an appropriate risk assessment and should be given the opportunity to make an informed decision about early detection testing,” Knudsen said.


  • American Cancer Society, press release, January 12, 2022

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