Since 1991, the United States has seen deaths related to cancer drop by 23%, according to the American Cancer Society’s (ACS’s) latest Cancer Statistics, 2016, report. Death rates were as high as 215.1 per 100,000 people in the early 1990s. As of 2012, rates have decreased to 166.4 per 100,000, marking a 28% drop in among men and 19% among women. 

ACS attributed much of the drop to increased awareness regarding the consequences of smoking, the importance of early detection, and the development of newer, more effective treatments. All four large cancer sites—lung, breast, prostate, and colon/rectal cancers—showed marked decreases. 

The 23% drop in cancer deaths equates to nearly 1.7 million lives saved since the 1990s. Female death rates for breast cancer have dropped 36% since their peak in 1989. Death rates among men diagnosed with prostate cancer are down 50% from their peak as well. Between 1990 and 2012, a reported 38% decline occurred in lung cancer death rates.

For 2016, ACS is projecting 1,685,210 new cancer cases and 595,690 deaths in the United States. Despite the continuing drops in mortality, cancer still remains the second leading cause of U.S. death, after heart disease.