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Cancer Death Rates Continue to Fall, Researchers Report

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Sept. 21, 2022 -- Cancer death rates in the United States continue falling because of treatments, diagnostic tools, and prevention strategies, the American Association for Cancer Research announced in its annual report Wednesday.

Death rates have been dropping sharply in recent years, according to the organization’s Cancer Progress Report.

“Basic research discoveries have driven the remarkable advances that we’ve seen in cancer medicine in recent years,” said AACR President Lisa M. Coussens, PhD. “Targeted therapies, immunotherapy, and other new therapeutic approaches being applied clinically all stem from fundamental discoveries in basic science.

“Investment in cancer science, as well as support for science education at all levels, is absolutely essential to drive the next wave of discoveries and accelerate progress.”

The report covered the period of Aug. 1, 2021, to July 31, 2022, and found:

  • More than 18 million cancer survivors are living in the United States, reflecting the fact that more people live longer and fuller lives after diagnosis.
  • Cancer mortality has declined quickly in recent years – with a 2.3% decrease every year between 2016 and 2019.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved eight anticancer therapeutics, including the first drug to treat uveal melanoma, the most common form of eye cancer in adults.
  • The FDA also expanded the use of 10 anticancer therapeutics and approved two new diagnostic imaging agents.

“This is a really exciting time in cancer management,” Stephen Ansell, MD, of the Mayo Clinic, who was not involved in the study, told NBC News. “We see the death rate from cancer keeps going down.”

Coussens highlighted the growing use of immunotherapies, which use the patient’s immune system to fight cancer. She also said early detection is “absolutely essential” and called for more routine screenings.

Black Americans continue to have the highest death rate of any racial group, the report said.

Show Sources

NBC News: “Cancer death rates continue to fall, driven by new treatments and improved screening”


American Association for Cancer Research: “AACR Cancer Progress Report Highlights Innovative Cancer Research That Improves, Extends, and Saves Lives”

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