Pigs Fly, American Cancer Society Reports Good News

A stethoscope and a doctor's notebook
Francis Scialabba

Most drops are bad—balls, phones, thun thuns. But today we’ve got a good drop to tell you about: a big one in the cancer mortality rate.

Yesterday, the American Cancer Society (ACS) reported the U.S. cancer death rate fell 2.2% from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop on record. The rate has declined 29% since 1991, translating to 2.9 million fewer cancer deaths than if rates stayed at their peak.

Experts pointed to two primary factors

First, lung cancer mortality is sledding down an icy hill.

  • That’s partly because despite Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s best efforts, smoking rates are on the decline. But it’s also a result of innovations in detection and treatment, like immunotherapy and drugs that target tumors at their molecular roots.

Second, those same advancements have boosted survival rates for advanced melanoma.

  • Immunotherapy Yervoy and targeted agent Zelboraf were both approved in the U.S. in 2011 to immediate effect—the one-year survival rate for metastatic melanoma jumped from 42% for patients diagnosed in 2008–2010 to 55% for those diagnosed in 2013–2015.

Zoom out: Valued at roughly $123 billion, the global cancer drug market is one of the largest and fastest-growing in the healthcare industry. Drugmakers like Roche (the owner of Zelboraf) and Bristol-Myers Squibb (Yervoy) invested heavily to gain a foothold in the ballooning space. We’re seeing the fruits of those investments in the ACS’s report.

We probably should mention…
Scientists and pharma companies haven’t beaten cancer—by a long shot. Cancer is the U.S.’ second-leading cause of death after heart disease. Plus, progress has slowed against colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers. And obesity-related cancer is a growing problem.

  • The ACS estimates that 2020 will bring about 1.8 million new U.S. cancer cases and over 600,000 deaths.

Zoom out x2: The cancer rate is measured by deaths per 100,000 people. So while the rate is falling, the overall number of cases and deaths each year isn’t.

source : Morning Brew

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