Cancer mortality falls by 29 percent over nearly three decades

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Cancer mortality falls by 29 percent over nearly three decades

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | January 09, 2020
Rad Oncology Women's Health

Rapid declines, however, have been observed in deaths from melanoma, with breakthrough FDA approvals for treatments such as ipilimumab and vemurafenib pushing one-year survival for metastatic patients from the 2008-2010 rate of 42 percent to the 2013-2015 rate of 55 percent. Overall, melanoma death rates recorded in 2006-2010 were two-to-three percent for patients aged 20-24, and one percent for patients aged 50-64. Bundled together, the two dropped to seven percent annually from 2013 to 2017. Individuals aged 65 and up, initially dying from melanoma at increasing rates, have experienced decreases of five to six percent.

Improvements in treatment protocols have also helped combat death from hematopoietic and lymphoid malignancies such as leukemias and lymphomas, with 5-year relative survival from chronic myeloid leukemia going from 22 percent in the mid-1970s to 70 percent between 2009 and 2015. This is due to the development of targeted therapies, with most patients treated with tyrosine kinase inhibitors today experiencing close to normal life expectancy, according to the report.

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"The accelerated drops in lung cancer mortality as well as in melanoma that we're seeing are likely due, at least in part, to advances in cancer treatment over the past decade, such as immunotherapy," said Dr. William G. Cance, chief medical and scientific officer for the American Cancer Society, in a statement. "They are a profound reminder of how rapidly this area of research is expanding, and now leading to real hope for cancer patients."

Estimates were based on computer models of cancer trends and population, and may vary. Trends were based on age-adjusted cancer incidence and death rates expressed as the number of cancer deaths per 100,000 people.

Overall cancer incidence rate in men decreased fast between 2007 and 2014, but stabilized in 2016. It has generally remained stable in women over the past few decades. The U.S. is projected to face 1,806,590 new cancer cases and experience 606,520 cancer deaths in 2020.

The findings were published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, and include a consumer version, Cancer Facts & Figures 2020.

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