Cancer death rates continue to fall, driven by new treatments and improved screening

Cancer death rates continue to fall in the U.S. as new treatments are approved that use the immune system to fight cancer and screening methods improve.

Significant strides in cancer treatments, diagnostic tools and prevention strategies continue to drive down cancer death rates, according to a report published Wednesday by the American Association for Cancer Research. 

Death rates from cancer have been falling over the past two decades, particularly sharply in recent years, the group's annual Cancer Progress Report found. As a result, there are now more than 18 million cancer survivors in the U.S. — up from 3 million in 1971.

“This is a really exciting time in cancer management,” said Dr. Stephen Ansell, the senior deputy director for the Midwest at the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center in Rochester, Minnesota, who wasn’t involved with the report. “We see the death rate from cancer keeps going down.”

President Joe Biden relaunched his “Cancer Moonshot” initiative this year, and last week he outlined new steps to expand on the program.

The initiative expands funding for cancer research, especially immunotherapies.

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