Tulsa World - - Datelines -

There's been a lot of bad news re­cently re­gard­ing U.S. death rates. In 2017, in­creases were seen in fa­tal­i­ties from seven of the 10 lead­ing causes of death, ac­cord­ing to re­cently re­leased gov­ern­ment data. But can­cer has been some­thing of a bright spot.

The na­tion's can­cer death rate was in­creas­ing un­til the early 1990s. It has been drop­ping since, fall­ing 27 per­cent be­tween 1991 and 2016, the Can­cer So­ci­ety re­ported.

Lung can­cer is the main rea­son. Among can­cers, it has long killed the most peo­ple, es­pe­cially men. But the lung can­cer death

The re­port has some mixed news about prostate can­cer, the sec­ond lead­ing cause of can­cer death in men.

The prostate can­cer death rate fell by half over two decades, but ex­perts have been won­der­ing whether the trend changed af­ter a 2011 de­ci­sion by the U.S. Pre­ven­tive Ser­vices Task Force to stop rec­om­mend­ing rou­tine test­ing of men us­ing the PSA blood test. That de­ci­sion was prompted by con­cerns the test was lead­ing to over­diag­no­sis and overtreat­ment.

The prostate can­cer death rate flat­tened from 2013 to 2016. So while the PSA test­ing may have sur­faced cases that didn't need treat­ment, it may also have pre­vented some can­cer deaths, the re­port sug­gests.

Of the most com­mon types of can­cer in the U.S., all the ones with in­creas­ing

There's been a de­cline in the his­toric racial gap in can­cer death rates, but an eco­nomic gap is grow­ing — es­pe­cially when it comes to deaths that could be pre­vented by early screen­ing and treat­ment, bet­ter eat­ing and less smok­ing.

In the early 1970s, colon can­cer death rates in the poor­est coun­ties were 20 per­cent lower than those in af­flu­ent coun­ties; now they're 30 per­cent higher. Cer­vi­cal can­cer deaths are twice as high for women in poor coun­ties now, com­pared with women in af­flu­ent coun­ties. And lung and liver can­cer death rates are 40 per­cent higher for men in poor coun­ties.

Dr. Dar­rell Gray, deputy direc­tor of Ohio State Univer­sity's Cen­ter for Can­cer Health Eq­uity, called the find­ings “im­por­tant but not sur­pris­ing.”

“We've known for some time that race is a sur­ro­gate” for other fac­tors, like poverty and dif­fi­culty get­ting to or pay­ing for doc­tor's ap­point­ments, he said.

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