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Advances in Lung Cancer Treatment Have Seen a Decline in Mortality Rates

The annual statistics for this year show that overall cancer deaths have declined by 2.2%, with lung cancer having the largest drop. The death rates have declined faster than cancer incidences.

According to research:

  • Biomedical cancer research conducted over the decades is yielding positive results.
  • Researchers compared mortality and incidence from non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer causes 76% of lung cancers, while small cell lung cancer accounts for 13% of all lung cancers in the United States. The two lung cancers are mainly caused by smoking, although many non-smokers develop non-small cell lung cancer.
  • Researchers observed that deaths from non-small cell lung cancer reduced faster than new cases, whereas the death rates from small cell lung cancer decreased at the same rate as the incidences.
  • The decline was attributed to screening for non-small cell lung cancer at the early stages when it was easy to treat. The advances in non-small cell lung cancer treatment take a larger portion of the credit. The recent decline in lung cancer mortalities is due to novel treatments such as immune checkpoint inhibitors, which supercharge the immune system to attack non-small cell tumors, and small molecule inhibitors, which target the genetic changes in non-small cell tumors. For small cell tumors, there haven’t been many treatment advancements for the past 30 years.
  • Similar improvements are seen in melanoma therapy, and that’s why its mortality is also dropping much more than incidence.

More declines in non-small cell lung cancer mortality rates are expected in the coming years due to immune checkpoint inhibitors’ effectiveness in treating non-small cell lung cancers.

An increase in screening and reduction in tobacco use can further lower mortality rates from lung cancer. Researchers should also look into advancing treatment for small cell lung cancer to prevent more deaths from the disease.

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