The leading cause of death in the United States remains lung cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that almost 230,000 new lung cancer cases will be diagnosed in the country. The good news is that in the recent years, death rates have fallen significantly in the United States. A new study has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine. According to this study, the death rates for men with non-small cell lung cancer have declined by 6.3% per year from 2013 to 2016. Also, the number of cases have also decreased but at a much slower rate. The decline in cancer-specific mortality exceeded a parallel decrease in non-small cell lung cancer incidence.
Douglas R. Lowy, M.D., NCI deputy director and co-author of this study said, “Reduced tobacco consumption in the U.S. has been associated with a progressive decrease in lung cancer deaths that started around 1990 in men and around 2000 in women. Until now, however, we have not known whether newer treatments might contribute to some of the recent improvement.” “This analysis shows for the first time that nationwide mortality rates for the most common category of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, are declining faster than its incidence, an advance that correlates with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of several targeted therapies for this cancer in recent years,” he added.
Between 2013 and 2016, the decline in yearly death rate was twice as large as for seven years before that. Similar improvements were seen among women as well. The researchers have found that death rates from small cell lung cancer also decreased in recent years. New treatments for non-small cell lung cancer emerged that target genetic mutations or alterations. The improved lung cancer treatments resulted in sharp decrease in mortality from the disease.
The authors noted in their findings that the advent of targeted agents and immunotherapy has resulted in improved treatment for NSCLC, which thereby contributed to improvement in NSCLC-specific survival.
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