While some health statistics seem to be getting worse each year, there’s some good news when it comes to cancer deaths. The American Cancer Society is calling the recent historic drop in cancer death rates ‘the biggest single-year drop ever.’ As a medical doctor, I see firsthand how devastating cancer can be to my patients and their loved ones. The latest report comparing 2016 and 2017 saw a 2.2% drop in cancer deaths. Cancer death rates peaked in 1991 and they’ve been steadily declining over the years since. Since then, the rate has fallen by 29%, which roughly translates to 2.9 million fewer cancer deaths. But, the sharp decline in just one year is amazing!
Why Has There Been A Sharp Decline In Cancer Deaths?
Well, there are a few contributing factors. We’re seeing a huge decline in lung cancer deaths specifically. Not only are fewer people smoking, but medical advancements such as targeted therapies, immunotherapy treatment, and improved surgical techniques are all positively contributing to the fight against cancer. We’re also seeing a notable decline in the number of deaths from the deadly skin cancer known as melanoma. This is also likely the result of breakthrough treatments. Now, something that everyone can do to reduce their risk of dying from melanoma is to see your family doctor regularly and get appropriate screenings and tests done. Early detecting has contributed to survival rates. The earlier a cancer is found, the greater the chance of beating it or living longer.
Will Cander Rates Continue To Fall?
I can’t tell you how much I’d like to answer this question with a ‘yes’, but, unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Our society continues to grow in terms of weight, which can undermine the progress being made on fighting cancer. In fact, 20% of all cancers have been linked to an excess of body fat. And 70% – 90% of cancers are caused by lifestyle and environmental factors. So, while it’s great that cancer numbers are falling, it’s still of the utmost importance to take care of our health by eating nutritious foods, avoiding smoking and drinking too much alcohol, getting enough sleep, and moving our bodies.