The American Cancer Society reported a 22% drop in cancer death rates during the past two decades. This means that 1.5 million cancer deaths were averted if the peak had persisted.
During the Society’s annual analysis of cancer diagnoses, mortality and survival data, they were able to attribute the decline in cancer death rates on a downturn in smoking habits, extra attention to cancer prevention, improvements in various cancer treatments and advances in early detection methods.
Although cancer death rates have declined in every state, the report found that there were substantial variations in the magnitude of these declines.
According to the data, the cancer death rates fell in every state, although Southern states have generally posted the smallest decreases while Northeastern states have marked the biggest reductions. Southern states saw a 15% decrease while Northern states saw a 30% decrease.
The most recent five years, for which data is available, from 2007 to 2011, the average annual decline in cancer death rates was slightly higher among men at 1.8% than women at 1.4%.
Overall death rates from cancers of the lung cancer, breast, prostate and colon all fell.
The American Cancer Society warns that although this is all good news, there is no reason to stop the progress. Cancer was responsible for about 1 in 4 deaths in the United States in 2011, which made it the second leading cause of death overall.
Each year, the American Cancer Society compiles the most recent data on cancer based on data from the National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the National Center for Health Statistics. The data is disseminated in two reports, Cancer Statistics 2015 and Cancer Facts & Figures 2015. The reports also estimate the number of new cancer cases and deaths expected in the United States in the current year.