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Cancer Stats 2016: Death Rate Falls 23%

By Lisa Schulmeister, MN, RN, ACNS-BC, FAAN
Every year, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates new cancer cases and deaths in the United States and compiles the most recent data on cancer incidence, mortality, and survival. The newly released 2016 report estimates there will be 1,685,210 new cancer cases and 595,690 cancer deaths in the United States in 2016. The full report can be found at

The good news is that the death rate from cancer has fallen 23% since 1991, which the ACS translates to more than 1.7 million cancer deaths averted through 2012. The lower death rate is attributed to fewer people smoking, along with advances in cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment. Overall cancer incidence is stable in women and declining by 3.1% per year in men (from 2009-2012), with one-half of the drop in men attributed to a reduction in PSA testing, which in turn decreased the incidence of prostate cancer diagnoses in men.

Death rates for female breast cancer have declined 36% from peak rates in 1989, and deaths from prostate and colorectal cancers have each dropped about 50% from their peak. Lung cancer death rates declined 38% between 1990 and 2012 among men and 13% between 2002 and 2012 among women due to reduced tobacco use. The report also features an analysis of leading causes of death by state and finds that, even as cancer remains the second leading cause of death nationwide, steep drops in deaths from heart disease have made cancer the leading cause of death in 21 states. Thyroid cancer continues to be the most rapidly increasing cancer (>5% per year in both men and women), which the ACS attributes to the increased use of advanced imaging techniques.
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