Washington: Driven by declines in smoking rates, cancer mortality in the US has dropped 22 percent over two decades, a new report says.

The American Cancer Society’s annual cancer statistics report estimated that this drop in cancer mortality led to the avoidance of more than 1.5 million cancer deaths that would have occurred if peak rates had persisted.

“The continuing drops we are seeing in cancer mortality are reason to celebrate, but not to stop,” said John Seffrin, PhD, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society.

Largely driven by rapid increases in lung cancer deaths among men as a consequence of the tobacco epidemic, the overall cancer death rate rose during most of the 20th century, peaking in 1991.

The subsequent, steady decline in the cancer death rate is the result of decline in smoking, as well as advances in cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment.

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