U.S. sees steady drop in cancer deaths for 25 years
Lower smoking levels, early detection and treatment are credited
NEW YORK — The U.S. cancer death rate has hit a milestone: It's been falling for at least 25 years, according to a new report.
Lower smoking rates are translating into fewer deaths. Advances in early detection and treatment also are having a positive impact, experts say.
But it's not all good news. Obesity-related cancer deaths are rising, and prostate cancer deaths are no longer dropping, said Rebecca Siegel, lead author of the American Cancer Society report published Tuesday.
Cancer also remains the nation's No. 2 killer. The society predicts there will be more than 1.7 million new cancer cases, and more than 600,000 cancer deaths, in the U.S. this year.
Here is a breakdown of what the report says:
rate dropped by nearly 50 percent among men since 1991. It was a delayed effect from a decline in smoking that began in the 1960s, Siegel said.
death rates are linked to obesity, including cancers of the pancreas and uterus.
Another is liver cancer. Liver cancer deaths have been increasing since the 1970s, and initially most of the increase was tied to hepatitis C infections. But now obesity accounts for a third of liver cancer deaths, and is more of a factor than hepatitis, Siegel said.
The nation's growing obesity epidemic was first identified as a problem in the 1990s. It can take decades to see how a risk factor influences cancer rates, “so we may just be seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the effect of the obesity epidemic on cancer,” Siegel said.