Cancer mortality rates in the US are down only 12% since 1970, compared to a 62% decrease for heart disease. The modest reduction of cancer deaths comes despite huge perceived advances in treatment and massive sums of research money targeting cancer, according to a study out of Dartmouth University.
The findings, by Samir Soneji–PhD of Dartmouth’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center–refute previous studies. The Dartmouth team’s new research was “substantially contrary to previous findings, especially for breast and prostate cancer, despite using the same data.” Soneji’s study compared U.S. and Western European spending between 1982 and 2010 for 12 of the most common cancers and found the U.S. saved fewer lives while spending far more money per patient on cancer care. “The greatest number of deaths averted occurred in cancers for which decreasing mortality rates were more likely to be the result of successful prevention and screening rather than advancements in treatment,” Soneji reports.