Latest report hails another drop in U.S. cancer deaths

See how Kentucky stacks up, and what you can do to fight cancer.

The American Cancer Society’s 2018 Cancer Statistics report hails another annual drop in cancer deaths. It finds that overall nationwide cancer deaths fell 1.7 percent in 2015.

Continuous declines over the past 26 years have added up to an overall 26 percent drop in cancer deaths. Had cancer deaths remained at their peak rate, the result would have been 2.4 million more lives lost nationwide.

Major targets: Lung, breast, prostate and colorectal cancers

Fewer deaths from lung, breast, prostate and colorectal cancer have fueled this ongoing progress. Because these “big four” malignancies account for 45 percent of all cancer deaths, they have been major targets for advances in prevention and screening.

Despite the significant gains, cancer continues to be the second leading cause of death in the United States. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death.

About 609,640 people nationwide are projected to die from cancer in 2018, which works out to some 1,700 deaths per day. Projections are based on 2016 information since data collection and processing typically involve a two- to four-year lag.

Kentucky’s outlook

According to the report’s breakdown of estimated deaths per state, Kentucky can expect to lose about 10,590 lives from cancer in 2018. Added data from the National Cancer Institute’s state cancer profiles show cancer deaths in Kentucky continue to trend downward, but not as quickly as the decline seen nationwide.

The table below highlights projected new incidences and deaths statewide for selected common cancers:

2018 Selected cancer projections for Kentucky
Type of cancer Estimated new cases Projected deaths
Female breast cancer 3,720
Colon and rectal cancer 2,370
Lung and bronchus cancer 5,150 3,530

Estimated new cases and projected deaths from lung cancer are striking, yet not surprising given Kentucky’s consistently high adult and youth smoking rates. Lung cancer, which has long held the title of No. 1 cancer killer, is responsible for one of every four cancer deaths.

Read more: How community health screenings save lives

What can you do?

The lifetime probability of a cancer diagnosis ranges from 37.6 percent for women to 39.7 percent for men. This new report underscores the value of prevention and screening in decreasing cancer deaths.

Krista MacArthur, clinical manager of Norton Healthcare Prevention & Wellness, points out access to mammograms, Pap smears and other wellness services is crucial since early detection means better outcomes for most cancers.

Lifestyle behaviors also have tremendous power to lower cancer risks.

“You can’t go wrong eating healthy, watching your weight, limiting your sugar and alcohol intake, and staying active,” MacArthur said. “And, of course, do not use tobacco products.”

Advanced treatments, technology and research play key roles in improving cancer survival rates. Should you or someone you love be diagnosed with cancer, Norton Cancer Institute offers cancer patients same-day appointments, so treatment often can be started the day of diagnosis.

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