ACS: 22 Percent Drop in Cancer Mortality Over 20 Years

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Falling cancer mortality rate means 1.5 million lives saved over 20 years.
Falling cancer mortality rate means 1.5 million lives saved over 20 years.

Progress in the war against cancer has triggered a 22 percent drop in U.S. deaths over the past two decades, translating to about 1.5 million lives saved, according to a new report from the American Cancer Society.

In 2011, the most recent year for which statistics are available, heart disease claimed the lives of 308,398 men and 288,179 women in the United States, while cancer killed 302,231 men and 274,460 women. The authors of the report estimate there will be 1,658,370 new cancer cases and 589,430 cancer deaths in the United States in 2015 -- about 1,600 cancer-related deaths a day.

However, those numbers are still a significant improvement on the past: The researchers found that cancer mortality declined from 215.1 per every 100,000 people in 1991 to 168.7 per 100,000 in 2011. Gains for men slightly exceeded those for women.

Between 2007 and 2011, the average annual decline in cancer mortality was larger for men (1.8 percent) than women (1.4 percent).

RELATED: ACS Releases Follow-Up Care Guidelines for Prostate Cancer Survivors

Progress varied by geographic region, however. The smallest declines in cancer mortality generally occurred in the South, where drops were about 15 percent.

The biggest advances took place in Northeastern states, with the cancer mortality rate dropping 25 to 30 percent in Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, and Delaware.

The overall rate of cancer incidence remained stable for women between 2007 and 2011, but declined by 1.8 percent per year for men.


  1. Siegel, Rebecca L., MPH, et al. "Cancer statistics, 2015." CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. DOI: 10.3322/caac.21254. January 5, 2015.

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