Investigators reported Tuesday another record one-year decline in the U.S. cancer death rate, a drop they attribute to success against lung cancer.
Overall cancer death rates have been declining since 1991. It fell 2.4% from 2017 to 2018, according to a report from the American Cancer Society, surpassing the record 2.2% decline reported the year before.
Pulmonary cancer accounted for nearly half of the overall decline in cancer deaths over the past five years, the society reports.
The majority of lung cancer cases are linked to smoking, and decades of declining smoking rates have led to declining rates of lung cancer disease and death. But experts say the decline in deaths has been accelerated by refinements in surgery, better diagnostic scans, more precise use of radiation and the effects of newer drugs.
“Both men and women diagnosed with lung cancer are surviving longer, and that’s really fantastic news,” Dr. Deborah Schrag, director of population sciences at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, said in a statement.
Cancers remain the second leading cause of death in the U.S., behind heart disease. An estimated 1.9 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year. Nearly 609,000 Americans will die from cancer, the society estimates.