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Posted on January 14, 2020

Luxor Nursing and Rehab at Mills Pond on How Advances in Lung Cancer Treatment is Causing Cancer Death Rates to Plummet

According to data released by the American Cancer Society at the beginning of this year, the overall death rate from cancer in the United States dropped 2.2 percent from 2016 to 2017, which is a record year-by-year drop in percentage. 

Since 1991, experts believe that nearly 3 million deaths have been avoided thanks to advancements in detection and treatment. 

Luxor Nursing and Rehab at Mills Pond looked deeper into the numbers, and we found that while there was a drop in mortality for the four cancers that produce the most deaths (breast, colon, lung, and prostate), it’s a continuously improving outlook for lung cancer patients that’s making the largest impact.

Among men, lung cancer deaths are down 51 percent over the last 30 years, while it’s down 26 percent among women over that span.

Doctors attribute a fair amount of that success to the drop in smoking – the number of smokers in the U.S. dropped from 20.9 percent in 2005 to 15.5 percent in 2016 – but advances in detection and treatment are also reasons for the improved mortality rate.

These treatments include targeted therapies, which are drugs that help the body eliminate what makes cancer cells work. Another big advancement, according to experts, is immunotherapies like Keytruda, which uses the body’s immune system to fight tumors; it’s approved for treatment of lung cancer and melanoma. 

The other three major cancers listed above are also seeing significant drops in mortality rate:

  • Breast cancer down 40 percent from 1989-2017.
  • Prostate cancer down 52 percent from 1993-2017.
  • Colon cancer down 53 percent in men since 1980 and down 57 percent in women since 1969.

Lung cancer is still the leading cause of cancer deaths in this country, killing more people than breast, prostate, and colon cancer combined.

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