The decline in cancer death rates began 26 years before Trump took office.

Enlarge/ US President Donald Trump arrives for a “Keep America Great” campaign rally at Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio, on January 9, 2020.
213 with 110 posters participating
The CEO of the American Cancer Society has refuted President Trumps claim that his administration had a hand in lowering the countrys cancer mortality rate, which has been steadily declining since 199126 years prior to Trump taking office.
Trumps bold claim came after the American Cancer Society published its latest data on US cancer mortality rates in an annual report. The data, published Wednesday, January 8, indicated that the overall cancer mortality rate continued its downward slide through 2017, with a 2.2 percent drop between 2016 and 2017. Thats the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality rate ever recorded. And overall, mortality rates between 1991 and 2017 have declined by 29 percent, sparing an estimated 2.9 million people from cancer deaths in that time frame.
The next day, January 9, Trump posted a tweet appearing to take credit for the decline, writing, U.S. Cancer Death Rate Lowest In Recorded History! A lot of good news coming out of this Administration.
However, according to American Cancer Society CEO Gary M. Reedy, that connection is false. Reedy told CNN that theres no link between the decline in cancer mortality and any actions by the Trump Administration.
“The mortality trends reflected in our current report, including the largest drop in overall cancer mortality ever recorded from 2016 to 2017, reflect prevention, early detection, and treatment advances that occurred in prior years,” Reedy said in a written statement to CNN.
Reedy noted that budgets approved during the Trump Administration have increased funding for cancer research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Cancer Institute (NCI), but he added that the impact of those increases are not reflected in the data contained in this report.
Moreover, as Politico points out, the Trump administration has attempted several times to dramatically cutnot increasefederal funding for cancer research. The Trump administrations proposed budget for last year would have slashed $896 million from NCI alone. In 2018, the administration proposed cutting NIH funding by $7.7 billion, about 22 percent of its budget. And in 2017, the Trump administration proposed cutting NIHs budget by $5.8 billion.
Congress bucked those proposals, passing more generous budgets for federal research. Last year, for instance, Trump ultimately signed a budget that increased NIHs budget by $2.6 billion.
Even if the Trump Administration had intended to increase support for cancer research during his termwhich began in 2017the impacts of that support would not have translated to life-saving treatments or other healthcare improvements in time to have added to the declining rates reported through the end of 2017.
According to the American Cancer Society, the 26-year-decline in cancer mortality rates is actually driven by drops in deaths from the four most common types of cancer: lung, colorectal, breast, and prostate. Declines in lung cancer deaths drove the record 2016-2017 drop in particular. Melanoma skin cancer deaths saw the steepest declines, though.
The accelerated drops in lung cancer mortality as well as in melanoma that we’re seeing are likely due at least in part to advances in cancer treatment over the past decade, such as immunotherapy, said William G. Cance, MD, chief medical and scientific officer for the American Cancer Society, in a statement.
The melanoma death rate fell by 7 percent each year between 2013 and 2017, in part due to two new immunotherapies approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2011.