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Why is the cancer death rate down?

Anti-smoking campaigns from years ago are having an impact on our health

ATLANTA — It’s World Cancer Day, and Americans are celebrating good news when it comes to the war on cancer.

The overall cancer death rate is down in the United States. In fact, the death rate due to cancer has dropped 31% since 1991.

“That overall decline translates to approximately 3.2-million cancer deaths averted during that time period,” says Rebecca Siegel, Senior Scientific Director at the American Cancer Society.

RELATED: American Cancer Society Cancer Statistics Center

Let’s explore why the cancer death rate has been dropping.

The driving factor is the progress in the battle against lung cancer. Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death, outpacing death due to breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer combined. Gone are the days when you could smoke on an airplane or inside any restaurant. The nation’s anti-smoking campaigns and laws that limited where you can smoke have had a major impact.

 “We’re now reaping and continuing to reap the benefits of reductions in smoking that happened decades ago because it takes that much time between exposure and cancer diagnosis and death,” says Siegel.

Advances in detection and treatment have saves lives particularly when it comes to breast, colon, and prostate cancer.

On the other hand, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a drop in the number of people going to the doctor for regular cancer screenings. There are concerns about the long term impact.

”It’s expected these disruptions in care will lead to later state diagnosis especially for cancers like breast and colorectal cancer,” says Siegel

Siegel points out that doctors have gone to great lengths to protect you from COVID while conducting the screenings you need for protection against cancer.


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