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Cancer mortality fell 27% over the last five decades

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | November 24, 2021
Rad Oncology

Likewise, screening and advances in treatment helped largely decrease female breast and colorectal cancer mortality. A study in February by a multinational team also found that even missing one scheduled mammogram can raise a woman’s risk of dying from breast cancer.

Jemal and his colleagues conducted their analysis using data from the National Center for Health Statistics for all cancers and for the top 15 cancer sites in 1971. At the time, those 15 accounted for 81% of cancer deaths. They used rate ratios and rate differences to compare mortality in 2019 to 1971, and rate peak years when applicable. They say that the findings show considerable progress in reducing the impact of cancer, largely due to greater public investments made following the passage of the National Cancer Act.

The study does not mention the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, though 19 states last year did see increases in lung cancer screenings. This could, however, be possibly due to the already low rate of LCS exams prior to the crisis, which was 5% to 6% in 2018 and could limit room for further decreases. Additionally, the CDC reported that breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings dropped 87% and 84%, respectively, in April 2020, compared to the previous five-year averages for the month, when the pandemic first hit.

The findings were published in JAMA Oncology.

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