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Cancer deaths in the US have fallen 2% each year since 2016, report says

Cancer deaths in the United States continue to fall, according to a new report from the American Association for Cancer Research.

The report published on Wednesday shows that the number of cancer deaths has fallen by 2.3% each year between 2016 and 2019.

Overall, the cancer death rate in the US has fallen 32% since 1991, which translates into saving about 3.5 million lives, the report said.

In addition, by 2022, there will be more than 18 million cancer survivors living in the US, equivalent to 5.4% of the population, the report finds. Fifty years earlier, there were only 3 million cancer survivors.

Caregiver Kimberly Schoolcraft visits the United in Blue facility on the National Mall to raise awareness about the need for more colorectal cancer research, treatment options, and funding on March 16, 2022 in Washington, D.C.

Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fight Colorectal Cancer, FILE

According to the report, the declining number of deaths is due to “unprecedented advances” made against cancer in the past decade.

This includes eight new cancer drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration between August 2021 and July 2022, as well as ten previously approved drugs that have been expanded to treat other types of cancer.

Another reason is due to the decline in smoking, the report says. The number of smokers among American adults has also fallen from 42% in 1965 to 12.5% ​​in 2020.

The report also highlights the importance of cancer screening, which can determine whether a person has precancerous lesions or early-stage cancer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s colorectal cancer control program — which aims to increase cancer screening rates in people between the ages of 45 and 75 — saw an average increase of 8.2 percentage points and 12.3 percentage points. among clinics that participated in the program for two and four years, respectively, according to the report.

“Basic research discoveries have led to the remarkable advances we have seen in cancer medicine in recent years,” said Dr. Lisa Coussens, the president of AACR, in a statement.

“Targeted therapies, immunotherapy and other new therapeutic approaches in clinical use all stem from fundamental discoveries in basic science,” the statement added. “Investments in cancer science, as well as support for science education at all levels, are absolutely essential to fuel the next wave of discoveries and accelerate progress.”

However, because cancer is still the second leading cause of death in the US — with an estimated 600,000 lives expected to be lost this year — the AACR is calling on Congress to increase funding for the National Institutes’ Cancer Institute. of Health and for the FDA, which oversees the regulation of cancer drugs.

PHOTO: Judy Smith, a two-time cancer survivor, gives her great-grandson a big hug during the Celebration and Survivor Ceremony at the 25th Annual Komen Colorado Race for the Cure on September 24, 2017 in Denver.

Judy Smith, a two-time cancer survivor, gives a big hug to her great-grandson during the Celebration and Survivor Ceremony at the 25th Annual Komen Colorado Race for the Cure on September 24, 2017 in Denver.

Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post via Getty Images, FILE

The group also called for increased support for programs such as President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot Initiative, which was relaunched in February 2022, with the goal of reducing the national cancer death rate by 50% over the next 25 years.

The good news comes despite a recent report that cancers in adults under the age of 50 have “risen dramatically” worldwide in recent decades.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston said the surge in several cancers, including breast, colon, esophagus, kidney, liver and pancreas, began in the early 1990s.

The Brigham study found that the increase is partly due to early screenings for some of these cancers. Early life exposure, such as diet, weight, lifestyle, environmental exposure and microbiome, may play a role in contributing to early-stage cancer, but more information is needed on individual exposures, the study said.

dr. Evelyn Huang of ABC News contributed to this report.

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