Recent advances in cancer treatment, diagnosis and prevention beg the question: Are cancer death rates decreasing? The answer from 2016 cancer statistics: yes. Deaths from cancer declined 23% between 1991 and 2012 in the United States, according to a 2016 report from the American Cancer Society. The decline represents 1.7 million lives saved. These six cancers in particular have seen their mortality rates declining, for a variety of reasons. 1. Lung Cancer For most of the 20th century, lung cancer deaths fueled overall cancer death rates. Today, greater awareness of the link between smoking and lung cancer—coupled with more people quitting—has been a key contributor to a decrease in lung cancer death rates. Between 1990 and 2012, the lung cancer death rate dropped 38% in men. The lung cancer death rate dropped 13% in women between 2002 and 2010. 2. Colon Cancer The number of new cases of colon cancer declined by 3% each year between 2003 and 2012, as did the colon cancer death rate. Experts credit this improvement to the adoption of the colonoscopy screening test to detect colon cancer early (sometimes even before pre-cancerous growths become cancerous). The percentage of adults aged 50 to 75 years undergoing colonoscopy screening jumped from 19% in 2000 to 55% in 2013. The decline may also be due to the availability of more effective medical and surgical treatments, along with the promotion of healthy diet and exercise, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine. 3. Stomach Cancer In the 1930s, stomach cancer represented 30% of cancer deaths in men and 20% in women. Fast forward to 2012, when stomach cancer rates had declined to approximately 2% for both men and women. The reasons for the decline aren’t as clear as for other types of cancers. Some researchers believe better hygiene, along with diets lower in salt and higher in fresh fruits and vegetables, have had an impact. 4. Prostate Cancer The rate of death from prostate cancer is down 50% from its highest rate. The number of new prostate cancer cases has also dropped drastically, accounting for a 50% reduction in all new cancer cases in men. It is important to note, however, that the decline in new cases is largely due to previous overdiagnosis of prostate cancer where it didn’t exist. This was driven by increased screening through prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests. Because of past overdiagnosis, medical organizations vary in their recommendations about routine PSA screening. Talk to your doctor about your individual risk factors so you can work together to make an informed decision. 5. Uterine Cancer In the early 20th century, uterine cancer, including cervical cancer, was the leading cause of cancer death in women. Between 1930 and 2012, the overall rate of death from uterine cancer declined by more than 80%. Experts credit cervical cancer screening tests for prevention and early detection. 6. Breast Cancer The rate of death from breast cancer in women has declined by 36% from peak rates, due largely to early diagnosis and treatment. Significant declines in breast cancer mortality have been seen across all age groups from 1987-1989 to 2011-2013, according to a recent study by the American Association for Cancer Research: 31% decline in women 70 and older 44% decline in women 50 to 69 50% decline in women under 50 The declining rates of new cancer cases and decreasing deaths from cancer are closely related to preventive lifestyle changes, screening tests, and effective treatment options. Talk with your doctor about your cancer risks and steps you can take to help reduce them.