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Cancer rates decline for now

Posted at 9:25 AM, Jan 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-13 11:25:22-05

The death rate from cancer declined to 2.4 percent among Americans from 2017 to 2018. That is a record drop according to the American Cancer Society, which just released its latest data.

"In the 27 years of decline in the cancer mortality we have not seen that substantial of a drop," said Rebecca Siegel, cancer epidemiologist, American Cancer Society.

The American Cancer Society's annual report shows more than 3 million deaths have been averted over those 27 years. Siegel says that is because fewer people are smoking, cancers are being detected earlier and treatments have advanced.

But now, there is a new concern when it comes to cancer rates and deaths -- the impact of COVID-19.

"These effects will trickle in," said Siegel. "They won't happen immediately. So we're expecting to experience a secondary impact of the pandemic over the next decade in terms of cancer rates."

Highlighting the need for continued cancer screenings despite the pandemic. Even though cancer death rates are down, there is still work to be done.

"For example lung cancer, there's still a lot of opportunity because even though we're making progress right now, lung cancer still causes more deaths than breast, prostate and colorectal cancers combined and more than 80-percent of those deaths are related to smoking."

The report also projects nearly 1.9 million new cancer cases in the United States this year and more than 608,000 American deaths.