publication date: Feb. 7, 2020

Conversation with The Cancer Letter

ACS’s Siegel: Large drop in lung cancer mortality likely driven by treatment, not just drugs

Rebecca Siegel

Rebecca Siegel

Scientific director of surveillance research, American Cancer Society;

Lead author, Cancer Statistics, 2020


Rebecca Siegel doesn’t usually pay attention to one-year drops in data trends, but the 2.2% decline in overall cancer mortality from 2016 to 2017—driven primarily by lung cancer—seemed too big to ignore.

“We rarely look at year-to-year drops ,because there’s so much fluctuation in year-to-year rates, which is why, normally, you want at least five years of data when you’re talking about a trend, and often 10 years,” said Siegel, scientific director of surveillance research at the American Cancer Society and the lead author of Cancer Statistics, 2020.

“The only reason we did that this year—and there was a lot of discussion before we did that—is because it could very likely be a blip,” said Siegel, who has authored the ACS’s annual reports on cancer statistics for 16 years. “Over the past 26 years, on average, the rate has dropped by 1.5% per year, just a steady, steady decline.

“But there are these blips, and we thought it was notable, because it’s so large—we’ve never seen such a large drop in one year—and also against the backdrop of what’s going on with other leading causes of death.”

In recent years, the mortality rate for lung cancer has been falling faster than … Continue reading ACS’s Siegel: Large drop in lung cancer mortality likely driven by treatment, not just drugs

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