Cancer death rate down 23 percent in 21 years

FILE - In December, former President Jimmy Carter announced that his most recent brain scan showed no signs of cancer. (Photo: Rick Diamond/The Carter Center)
FILE - In December, former President Jimmy Carter announced that his most recent brain scan showed no signs of cancer. (Photo: Rick Diamond/The Carter Center)

While the cancer death rate has fallen 23 percent since its peak in 1991, thanks to declining smoking rates and advances in cancer detection, treatment and prevention,the disease is becoming the No. 1 killer in more and more states.

Nationwide, heart disease is still the leading cause of death, just ahead of cancer. While death rates for both have been falling for nearly 25 years, heart disease has dropped at a steeper rate.

As a result, cancer moved up to the top slot in 22 states in 2014, according to the latest government figures.

It's also the leading cause of death in certain groups of people, including Hispanics, Asians, and adults ages 40 to 79.

The trend is noted in the American Cancer Society's latest annual report released Thursday.

The heart disease death rate fell 46 percent in that time.

The cancer society predicts there will be nearly 1.7 million new cancer cases this year, and nearly 600,000 deaths.

Government figures for 2014 show cancer was the leading cause of death in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

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Online:

Cancer society report: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.3322/caac.21332/full

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