ICYMI: Cancer death rate declines at record levels thanks to innovative medicines

Andrew Powaleny   |     January 9, 2020   |   SHARE THIS

Each year, the American Cancer Society estimates the number of new cancer cases and deaths that will occur in the United States. For nearly 30 years, the trend towards fewer cancer deaths has been moving in a positive direction with less cases of mortality year after year. In their latest report, Cancer statistics, 2020, data demonstrates the biggest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever occurred between 2016 and 2017, declining 2.2%

Since peaking in 1991, the death rate associated with cancer declined by 29%, which translates to 2.9 million fewer cancer deaths. The 2020 report notes these long-term declines were propelled by fewer deaths including in lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancers. Contributing to the decline have been innovations from targeted therapies along with immunotherapy that have played a key role alongside efforts to reduce behaviors associated with lung cancer risk, such as smoking, and key medical innovations, such as early screenings.

American Cancer Society also highlights notable achievements for other forms of cancer:

  • In recent years, melanoma has showed the biggest mortality-rate drop of any cancer. Similar to lung cancer, this decline is aided by breakthrough treatments, such as immunotherapy, which was first approved for advanced melanoma in 2011.

  • Long‐term rapid increases in liver cancer mortality have attenuated in women and stabilized in men.

  • Survival has improved since the mid-1970s for all of the most common cancers except cervical and uterine cancers. In those cases, treatment breakthroughs for advanced disease are still needed.

While the latest report highlights impressive progress toward reducing cancer mortality rates, cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States. Biopharmaceutical researchers are committed to sustaining progress toward reducing cancer-related mortality, with nearly 1,100 medicines and vaccines currently in development to fight cancer. 

Read more about the innovative cancer treatment options in development here.

Andrew Powaleny

Andrew Powaleny is Senior Director of Public Affairs at PhRMA and leads the organization's scientific communications. Before joining PhRMA in 2015, he worked in public affairs for a small firm in Washington, DC and served as Deputy Press Secretary for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Andrew came to Washington, D.C. via Connecticut with a degree from Eastern Connecticut State University where he majored in public policy and government. Andrew is active as a runner and volunteer with the DC Front Runners; most recently serving on its Board of Directors for three years as co-race director. He is also a member of the NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists and mentors students through his alumni association with The Fund for American Studies. Andrew is passionate about scientific innovation, especially for mental illness, and his heroes are the men and women of America’s biopharmaceutical research companies.

Topics: Research and Development, Cancer, GoBoldly, R&D Focus

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