U.S. cancer death rate sees another record decline but remains No. 2 cause of death

Success in the fight against lung cancer has been key to the latest record one-year decline in the U.S. cancer death rate, researchers say.

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Researchers say the latest record one-year decline in the U.S. cancer death rate is thanks largely to success fighting lung cancer, seen here up close.

Researchers say the latest record one-year decline in the U.S. cancer death rate is thanks largely to success fighting lung cancer, seen here up close.

CDC

Researchers report another record one-year decline in the U.S. cancer death rate, a drop they attribute to success in the fight against lung cancer.

The nation’s overall cancer death rate has been falling since 1991. From 2017 to 2018, it declined by 2.4%, according to an American Cancer Society report, topping the record 2.2% drop reported the year before.

Lung cancer accounted for nearly half of the overall decline in cancer deaths in the past five years, the society reported.

Most lung cancer is tied to smoking, and decades of declining smoking rates have led to falling rates of lung cancer illnesses and deaths.

But experts say the drop in deaths has been accelerated by refinements in surgery, better diagnostic scanning, more precise use of radiation and the impact of newer drugs.

“Both men and women who are diagnosed with lung cancer are surviving longer, and that’s really fantastic news,” said Dr. Deborah Schrag, chief of population sciences at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Still, cancer remains the country’s second-leading cause of death, after heart disease. An estimated 1.9 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed nationwide this year, and nearly 609,000 Americans will die from cancer, the American Cancer Society estimates.

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