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US Cancer deaths down 33 percent since 1991

Photo credit National Cancer Institute, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences

CANCER DIGEST – Jan. 16, 2022 – Cancer deaths in the US have declined by 33 percent since 1991, according to the latest American Cancer Society report. Based on that number, an estimated 3.8 million cancer deaths have been averted. The report appears in the Jan. 12, 2023 CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, and the ACS's Cancer Facts & Figures 2023.

The report says that cancer prevention efforts, including screening, are credited with the substantial declines. For example there was a 65 percent reduction in cervical cancer rate in women 20-24 from 2012 to 2019 due to the introduction of the HPV vaccine. The report is based on data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) cancer registries.

“The large drop in cervical cancer incidence is extremely exciting because this is the first group of women to receive the HPV vaccine, and it probably foreshadows steep reductions in other HPV-associated cancers,” said Rebecca Siegel, senior scientific director, surveillance research at the American Cancer Society, and the lead author of the report.

It was not all good news, however, the report showed that prostate cancer rose by 3 percent from 2014 to 2019 after 20 years of declines. The increase was mostly due to diagnoses of advanced disease. Since 2011 the diagnosis of advanced-stage prostate cancer rose between 4 and 5 percent annually, and the proportion of men diagnosed with cancer that has spread to distant parts of the body doubled.

To combat the increase in advanced prostate cancer, the American Cancer Society is launching IMPACT, or Improving Mortality from Prostate Cancer Together. The program will fund new research initiatives aimed at connecting laboratory findings with clinicians and the community with an emphasis on identifying who is most at risk for prostate cancer.

“Our overall goals, for all men, can only be accomplished with community partnerships, including standing shoulder to shoulder with trusted organizations that share our vision to meaningfully address disparities in prostate cancer,” Dr. Karen Knudsen, CEO of the ACS, said in a press release. “This is a critical initiative, and we are seeking partnerships with diverse stakeholders to ensure its success.”

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