A new report published by the American Cancer Society Tuesday in A Cancer Journal for Clinicians found deaths from breast cancer declined almost 40 percent between 1989 and 2015, equating to 322,600 deaths.
Between 1975 and 1989 breast cancer death rates increased 0.4 percent each year. However, after 1989 and through to 2015, deaths decreased 39 percent overall, according to the report. This drastic decrease can be attributed to advances in medications and treatment options.
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Deanna Attai, a breast cancer surgeon at the University of California at Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study, said some of these advances include superior chemotherapy treatments, which were first developed in the 1980s, but have since been improved and are given after surgery to reduce the risk of recurrence, The Washington Post reported.
Other breakthroughs include tamoxifen, an anti-estrogen agent first approved in the 1970s, the drug Herceptin, which is used to treat specific types of tumors and drugs called aromatase inhibitors, which can also reduce recurrence when taken over a long period of time.
The report also attributes the decline in deaths to the advancement of early-detection mammography technology. However, behind skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in U.S. women, and about 12.4 percent of women (1 in 8) will be diagnosed with it in their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society.
Approximately 252,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2017 in the U.S. and more than 40,600 of these diagnoses will be fatal, The Washington Post reported.