Cancer Deaths Are Down by 25 percent in the U.S.
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Cancer Deaths Are Down by 25 percent in the U.S.

Prostate, colon, breast and lung cancer deaths have all decreased in America.

Cancer deaths are down by 25 percent from 1991, according to a report from the American Cancer Society. That equals 2.1 million lives saved from 1991 to 2014 alone.

One reason for the dramatic decrease may be a better use of screening guidelines, which has lead to earlier detection and treatment for four major types of cancer:  

  • Colon cancer: Colon cancer is so often deadly because it doesn’t typically show any symptoms until it’s already reached an advanced stage. But the word is out—more people are getting their screening colonoscopies starting at age 50. In 2018, the American Cancer Society changed their guidelines to recommend screening even earlier—age 45 for most people. People at higher risk like African Americans and those with a family history of colon cancer should talk to their healthcare provider (HCP) about screening at age 40.
  • Prostate cancer: Whether or not men should get tested for prostate cancer with the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test is controversial. The test is often unreliable and can lead to incorrect or missed diagnoses. But now that more men are having frank talks with their HCPs about the risks and benefits of the PSA for them, more prostate cancer cases are being treated when it’s appropriate.
  • Lung cancer: General awareness about the link between smoking and cancer has resulted in fewer lung cancer diagnoses and deaths. If you’re a smoker, or if you quit within the last 15 years, ask your HCP if you should undergo routine screenings for lung cancer. Visit Sharecare’s quit smoking page for help quitting.
  • Breast cancer: Most women should begin routine screening mammograms around age 45; talk to your HCP about mammograms starting around age 40.

Why are there fewer cancer deaths overall?
The decrease has been consistent from year-to-year, falling by about 1.5 percent annually over the past decade. Changes to screening guidelines, safer treatments, plus better awareness about how to lower your cancer risk may be to thank, according to the American Cancer Society.

You may be able to lower your overall cancer risk by avoiding tobacco, building exercise into your daily routine, eating plenty of fresh fruits and veggies and following all cancer screening guidelines that apply to you.