The report shows that the cancer death rate in the United States dropped by about a third (32 percent) from its peak in 1991 to 2019 — from about 215 deaths for every 100,000 people to about 146.
This translates to about 3.5 million deaths prevented during that time, according to the data.
Much of the reduction is due to the progress made against lung cancer, which remains the leading cause of cancer death in the country.
The American Cancer Society data shows that people are diagnosed with lung cancer earlier and living longer.
More than 30 percent of people with lung cancer are living at least 3 years after diagnosis, compared to 21 percent in 2004, the report says.
“The survival rates had been pretty stagnant for lung cancer, so to see this progress is really exciting,” Rebecca L. SiegelTrusted Source, MPH, an epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society and a corresponding author of the report, told Healthline.
Siegel said the earlier diagnosis and improved survival rates are a result of such things as the increase in screening through the Affordable Care Act as well as declines in smoking and the development of targeted treatments.
Mortality rates for lung cancer dropped about 5 percent each year between 2015 and 2019, while overall cancer mortality dropped about 2 percent in that time, the report stated.
Siegel acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic will impact next year’s report because of delays in screening, healthcare closures, lack of doctor visits, and other factors.