(CNN/Gray News) – The rate of people dying from cancer in the United States has dropped steadily for more than two decades, a new study says.
But disparities remain between the rich and the poor, and between black and white patients, according to the study from the American Cancer Society.
The overall nationwide death rate from cancer fell 27 percent between 1991 and 2016.
The decline is attributable to several factors, not the least of which is a drastic decline in smoking. Better detection and “revolutionary advances” in treatment are also playing a big part.
The study’s authors said the decrease in cancer deaths was a welcome surprise following a steady increase during the 20th century.
The research also shows the disparity in death rates between black and white cancer patients has been shrinking.
In the mid-1990s, the cancer death rate for black patients was 33-percent higher than for white patients. The cancer death rate for black patients is now 14-percent higher than among white patients.
The disparity in cancer death rates, however, has widened between poor patients and the wealthy over the past three decades.
For example, between 2012 and 2016 the overall cancer death rate was around 20-percent higher among people living in the poorest U.S. counties than those in the wealthiest counties.
The decline in the United States is in contrast to the global trend, according to the World Health Organization.
According to a report released in September, cancer cases appear to be increasing worldwide, with 9.8 million cancer deaths in 2018 alone.