U.S. Cancer Death Rate Drops by Largest Amount on Record

By Brianna Abbott

The cancer death rate in the U.S. dropped 2.2% from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop ever recorded, according to the latest report from the American Cancer Society, continuing a longstanding decline that began a quarter-century ago. The drop is largely driven by progress against lung cancer, though the most rapid declines in the report occurred in melanoma. Advances in treatment are helping improve survival rates in the two cancers, experts say. Falling smoking rates have played a big role in the decline in lung-cancer deaths, cancer doctors say, as well as improvements in detection and treatment. For melanoma, the report singles out the emergence of drugs like Roche Holding AG ’s Zelboraf that target the molecular roots of tumors and therapies like Yervoy from Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., which enlist a patient’s own immune system in the cancer fight.

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