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A breast surgeon removes a suspicious lump found in the breast of a patient in Lanham, Maryland. Death rates from breast cancer are down by one-third from their peak.

The number of Americans dying from cancer has continued to fall since peaking in 1991, averting 1.5 million deaths that otherwise would have stemmed from one of the most feared diseases in the world.

The American Cancer Society, in its annual statistical report, estimates that 1.7 million Americans will be diagnosed with malignancies and 589,430 will die from them in 2015, roughly 1,600 people a day. Cancer already is the leading cause of death among Americans ages 40 to 79, and is expected to overtake heart disease as the nation’s top killer in the next several years, said Chief Executive Officer John R. Seffrin.

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