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Sharp decline seen in non–small-cell lung cancer mortality rates

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Mortality from non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in the United States declined sharply, likely due to treatment advances, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In this study, data from Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) areas were used to evaluate population-level mortality trends attributed to specific lung cancer subtypes.

Incidence-based mortality from NSCLC amongst men decreased 6.3% annually from 2013 through 2016 compared to 3.1% decrease annually from 2008 through 2016.

Men diagnosed with NSCLC in 2001 saw a 26% improvement in corresponding lung cancer–specific survival compared with 35% among men diagnosed in 2014.

Improvement was found regardless of race and ethnic group, with similar patterns found in women with NSCLC.

The authors concluded that the reduction is mostly likely due to treatment advances, specifically targeted therapies.

Howlader N, Forjaz G, Mooradian MJ, et al. The effect of advances in lung-cancer treatment on population mortality. N Engl J Med. 2020; 383:640-649. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1916623