Cancer deaths in the United States continue to decline, according to a new report from the American Association for Cancer Research.
The report, published on Wednesday, found that cancer deaths have decreased by 2.3% each year between 2016 and 2019.
Overall, there has been a 32% reduction in the cancer death rate in the US since 1991, resulting in approximately 3.5 million lives being saved, according to the report.
Additionally, by 2022, there are more than 18 million cancer survivors living in the US, equivalent to 5.4% of the population, according to the report. Fifty years ago, there were only 3 million cancer survivors.
According to the report, the decrease in the death toll is due to “unprecedented progress” made against cancer over the past decade.
This includes eight new cancer drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration between August 2021 and July 2022, as well as 10 previously approved drugs that have been expanded to treat other types of cancer.
Another reason is the decline in smoking, the report says. Smoking rates among US adults have also declined from 42% in 1965 to 12.5% in 2020.
The report also highlights the importance of cancer screening, which can determine whether a person has precancerous lesions or cancer in its early stages.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Colorectal Cancer Control Program — which aims to increase cancer screening rates among people ages 45 to 75 — saw an average increase of 8 .2 percentage points and 12.3 percentage points among the clinics that participated in the program. for two and four years, respectively, according to the report.
“Discoveries in basic research have driven the remarkable advances we’ve seen in cancer medicine in recent years,” said Dr. Lisa Coussens, president of the AACR, in a statement.
“Targeted therapies, immunotherapy and other new therapeutic approaches that are applied clinically stem from fundamental discoveries in basic science,” the statement added. “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.”
However, as cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States, with approximately 600,000 lives expected to be lost this year, the AACR is calling on Congress to increase funding for the Institutes’ National Cancer Institute nationals of Health and for the FDA, which oversees the regulation of cancer medication.
The group also called for more support for programs like President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot initiative, which was relaunched in February 2022, with the goal of reducing the national cancer death rate by 50 percent over the next 25 years .
The good news comes despite a recent report that cancers among adults under the age of 50 have “increased dramatically” globally in recent decades.
Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston said the sharp increase in several cancers, including breast, colon, esophagus, kidney, liver and pancreas, began in the early 1990s.
The Brigham study found that the increase is partially attributable to earlier testing for some of these cancers. Early life exposures such as diet, weight, lifestyle, environmental exposure and people’s microbiome may account for what contributes to early-onset cancer, but more information is needed on individual exposures, according to the study.
ABC News’ Dr. Evelyn Huang contributed to this report.