Cancer deaths in the U.S. have decreased by 33 percent over the past three decades, according to a new study from the American Cancer Society.
The study — published on Thursday in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians — estimated that this has resulted in about 3.8 million fewer deaths.
After peaking in 1991, the mortality rate from cancer has continued to fall over the last 30 years due to a decrease in smoking and improved cancer detection and treatment, according to the study.
This trend continued in 2020 — the most recent year for which data is available — with another 1.5 percent decrease in mortality rates compared to 2019.
Two times more deaths were averted among men than among women —about 2.6 million compared to about 1.2 million — which the study attributed to a higher peak and faster decline in the death rate among men. Men still have a higher mortality rate from cancer than woman, despite this rapid decrease.
A drop in mortality rates from lung cancer has been a particular driver of this trend, the study noted. However, lung cancer remains among the most deadly forms of cancer, holding the highest death rate for both men and women.
Cancer was the second-leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020, behind heart disease and followed by COVID-19.