Cancer is Losing the Battle to New Medications

Cancer deaths decreased in the US overall but varied by region and type of cancer

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Cancer may not be as much of a threat as it used to be. Newer medications and healthier lifestyles are winning the fight.

Over the past two decades, the cancer death rate has dropped significantly in the US, a new study found. This study, an annual cancer statistics report from the American Cancer Society, found that fewer people overall died from cancer, but the numbers varied widely by location and type of cancer.

"The continuing drops we're seeing in cancer mortality are reason to celebrate, but not to stop," said John R. Seffrin, PhD, American Cancer Society CEO, in a press release.

Despite these drops in cancer mortality, cancer is still likely to take the title of leading cause of death in the US in the next few years, Dr. Seffrin said.

"The change may be inevitable, but we can still lessen cancer's deadly impact by making sure as many Americans as possible have access to the best tools to prevent, detect, and treat cancer," Dr. Seffrin said.

Rebecca L. Siegel, MPH, of Metropolitan Internal Medicine in Bethesda, MD, led this study, which looked at the most recent cancer data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute and the National Center for Health Statistics.

That data found that the rate of deaths from cancer dropped over a two-decade time span. Dr. Siegel and colleagues estimated that this drop meant that 1.5 million fewer people died from cancer.

These researchers said that the drop in cancer mortality was likely due to fewer people smoking and major advancements in cancer treatment and prevention.

Between 1990 and 2011, the number of people who died from lung cancer declined by 36 percent, Dr. Siegel and team found. That rate dropped by 35 percent for women with breast cancer and 47 percent for patients with prostate and colorectal cancer.

These improved cancer mortality rates varied by region. Dr. Siegel and colleagues found that the South saw the smallest decline in cancer deaths. The largest decline was in the Northeast.

This study was published online Dec. 31 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

The American Cancer Society funded this research. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
December 31, 2014
Last Updated:
January 5, 2015