Cancer mortality rates have dropped 22 percent since 1991, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has announced, as part of its annual survey. This drop represents a reduction of more than 1.5 million deaths from cancer during that time.

The American Cancer Society predicts that more than 1.65 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer during 2015, and over 589,000 will die of the effect of this class of disease. Each year from 2007 to 2011, cancer diagnoses decreased by 1.8 percent in males, and stayed steady in males. Deaths from cancer decreased 1.8 percent in males and 1.4 percent in females during that same period. Despite these improvements, cancer remains one of the most deadly of all health conditions.

"The continuing drops we're seeing in cancer mortality are reason to celebrate, but not to stop. Cancer was responsible for nearly one in four deaths in the United States in 2011, making it the second leading cause of death overall," John Seffrin, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society, said.

Cancer remains the second-leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease.

Improvement in cancer rates varied by state, with the greatest improvements seen in the northeast, and the smallest advances seen in the south. A similar geographical pattern is seen in obesity and smoking rates. These are the two leading preventable causes of cancer, according to medical researchers. Cancer risks are also dependent on income and access to medical care.

Breast, prostate, and colon cancers are becoming less common, leading to overall reductions in diagnoses. Fatalities from colon and prostate cancer were reduced by 47 percent from 20 years ago, the ACS reports. Breast cancer deaths were down 35 percent during the same time, according to the report.

Lung cancer remains the most deadly form of cancer, although rates of that disease are declining. Currently, it takes the lives of 27 percent of all of the victims who died from cancer. Lung cancer rates underwent a reduction of 36 percent among men between the years 1990 and 2011. Women saw an 11 percent improvement between 2002 and 2011.

A decrease in smoking rates is being credited with much of the improvements. Tobacco use among American women rose 20 years after the habit did in men. During the middle of the 1980's, tobacco consumption started to fall among males, while a similar decline was not experienced by female smokers until the 1990's.

The American Cancer Society predicts that cancer will soon overtake heart disease as the leading cause of death in the United States, although rates continue to improve.

The announcement of improved survival rates for cancer will be detailed in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

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