publication date: Feb. 21, 2020

Trials & Tribulations

Lung cancer: Significant progress leads to record annual decrease in cancer mortality

Fred R. Hirsch

By Fred R. Hirsch, MD, PhD

Executive director, Center for Thoracic Oncology, Tisch Cancer Institute, Mount Sinai

Professor of Medicine and Pathology, Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai


We were recently presented with the new report from American Cancer Society1 showing the biggest annual decrease in cancer mortality, which was mainly due to decline in smoking, as well as improvements in early detection and treatment.

Mortality rates are a better indicator of progress against cancer than incidence or survival rates, because they are less affected by biases resulting from changes in detection practices.

During the most recent decade (2008-2017), the death rate declined by 1.5% per year for cancer, while remaining stable for all other causes of death combined. The progress against cancer reflects large declines in mortality for the four major cancers: lung, breast, prostate and colorectal cancers.

For lung cancer, as of 2017, the death rate, according to American Cancer Society, dropped from its peak by 51% among males (since 1990) and by 26% among females (since 2002). In 2016-2017, the overall cancer deaths declined by 2.2%, which is the largest single-year drop, which is mainly driven by recent rapid declines in lung cancer mortality.

The drop in APC (annual percent change based on mortality rates age adjusted to the 2000 U.S. standard population) was 4.9% (males; 4.9, females; 4.2). … Continue reading Lung cancer: Significant progress leads to record annual decrease in cancer mortality

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