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Cancer Statistics for Hispanics/Latinos, 2018-2020 now available in Spanish

​We are pleased to announce that Cancer Statistics for Hispanics and Latinos, 2018-2020 has been translated into Spanish, demonstrating the American Cancer Society's commitment to its Core Value of Diversity. It is now available on

As reported when the English version was published last fall, the report notes that the cancer burden in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory with a 99% Hispanic population, is substantially different from that of Hispanics in the continental U.S. The report says that men in Puerto Rico have higher prostate and colorectal cancer rates than non-Hispanic whites (NHWs) in the continental U.S, in contrast to U.S. Hispanics as a whole, who have lower rates for these cancers. 

Here are highlights:

  • Prostate cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among men in Puerto Rico, accounting for nearly 1 in 6 deaths during 2011-2015, whereas lung cancer accounts for the largest percentage of cancer deaths among other U.S. Hispanic men. Further, Puerto Rico was the only state or territory included in the analysis where lung cancer was not the leading cause of cancer death among men overall. This reflects not only high prostate cancer mortality in the territory (26.7 per 100,000 in Puerto Rico versus 18. 2 in NHWs and 16.2 in other U.S. Hispanics during 2011-2015), but also exceptionally low lung cancer death rates among men in Puerto Rico (19.8 versus 56.3 in NHWs and 26.5 in other U.S. Hispanics). 

  • Mortality rates for colorectal cancer in men in Puerto Rico during 2011-2015 were 17% higher than those in NHWs and 35% higher than those of other U.S. Hispanics combined.

These differences highlight the wide variation in cancer risk within the U.S. Hispanic population, for whom population-based health data are often only available in aggregate. Hispanics/Latinos represent the largest racial/ethnic minority group in the U.S., accounting for 17.8% (57.5 million) of the continental U.S. population in 2016, including more than one-third of the population in some southern and western states (e.g., California, New Mexico, Texas). An additional three million Hispanic Americans reside in Puerto Rico. The U.S. Hispanic population is one of the most diverse and rapidly growing groups in the U.S. and is expected to nearly double in size by 2060. 

Although overall cancer incidence and mortality rates in Hispanics in the continental U.S. and Hawaii are 25% to 30% lower, respectively, than in non-Hispanic whites, rates among some U.S.-born Hispanics approach those in non-Hispanic whites. Given that the rapid growth of Hispanic population in the U.S. is now driven by birth rather than immigration, the authors of the report anticipate a burgeoning cancer burden among Hispanics.   

Currently, however, the cancer profile in U.S. Hispanics reflects that in Latin America, as one-third of this population is foreign-born and maintains much of the cancer risk of their country of origin. As a group, Hispanics are less likely than NHWs to be diagnosed with the four most common cancers (prostate, breast, lung and bronchus, and colorectal), but have a higher risk of infection-related cancers (stomach, liver, and cervix), which, with the exception of liver cancer, are more frequent in Latin American countries. For example, stomach cancer mortality rates among continental U.S. Hispanics are twice those in NHWs.

  • Cancer is the leading cause of death among Hispanics, followed by heart disease.

  • In 2018, an estimated 42,700 Hispanic men and women in the U.S. will die from cancer. This does not include cancer deaths in Puerto Rico due to data limitations. 

  • Among Hispanic men, lung (16%), liver (12%), and colorectal (11%) cancers cause the most cancer deaths, whereas among women, these are breast (16%), lung (13%), and colorectal (9%) cancers. 

  • Lung cancer accounts for 14% of cancer deaths among Hispanics compared to 25% in the overall population because of the historical and continuing low smoking rates in Hispanics. In contrast, liver cancer accounts for 12% of cancer deaths in Hispanic men versus 6% in men overall.

Variations in cancer risk between Hispanics and NHWs, as well as within the Hispanic community, are primarily driven by differences in exposure to cancer-causing infectious agents and behavioral risk factors. For example, the prevalence of cigarette smoking in 2017 was 17% among NHWs compared to 10% among Hispanics residing in the continental U.S., similar to the rate among island Puerto Ricans; however, within the Hispanic population smoking prevalence ranged from 6% among Dominicans and Central/South Americans to 17% among Puerto Ricans who reside stateside. Counterbalancing generally low smoking rates, continental Hispanics and those in Puerto Rico have among the highest prevalence of the second-most important cancer risk factor – excess body weight—as well as type 2 diabetes, which increases risk independent of body weight.

This report is published every three years.

  • How much do you know about cervical cancer?

    January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, an excellent time to test our knowledge of a cancer that the American Cancer Society believes could be eliminated with widespread adoption of the HPV vaccine.

    Here are 10 true or false questions. You'll find the answers at the bottom.

    1.     The pap test, one of two types of tests used to detect cervical cancer, is named after George Papanicolaou, MD (1883–1962). True or false?

    2.     Most cervical cancers are caused by HPV. True or false?

    3.     Most cervical cancers can be prevented by regular screening. True or false?

    4.     Only women need to be concerned about HPV? True or false?

    5.     Cervical cancer grows slowly and tends to occur in midlife. True or false? 

    6.     Once vaccinated against HPV, women no longer need Pap tests and HPV tests. True or false?

    7.     A family history of cervical cancer and HPV infections can increase your risk for cervical cancer. True or false?

    8.     HPV infection is very common. Most men and women who have ever had sex get at least one type of genital HPV at some time in their lives. True or false?

    9.    There is no treatment for HPV, but in most cases it goes away without treatment. True or false?

    10.   All women should have cervical cancer screenings beginning at age 21. Women ages 21 to 29 should receive a Pap test every 3 years. True or false?


    1.     True. The PAP test was developed by George Papanicolaou, MD,  in the 1920s. At first, most doctors were skeptical, and it was not until the American Cancer Society promoted the test during the early 1960s that this test became widely used. Cervical cancer mortality rates have decreased by more than 50 percent over the past four decades.

    2.    True. The human papillomavirus (pap-ah-LO-mah-VI-rus) or HPV is known to cause almost all cervical cancers. HPVs are a large group of related viruses. Each virus in the group is given a number, which is called an HPV type. Most HPV types cause warts on the skin, such as on the arms, chest, hands, or feet. Other types are found mainly on the body's mucous membranes, such as the vagina, anus, mouth, and throat. The HPV types found on mucous membranes are sometimes called genital HPV. Genital HPV is not the same as HIV or herpes. Low-risk HPV causes warts (papillomas) on or around the genitals and anus of both men and women, and they rarely cause cancer. Other types of HPV are called "high-risk" because they can cause cancers of the cervix, vagina, and vulva in women, as well as certain mouth, throat, and anal cancers in men and women, and penile cancer in men. Doctors worry more about the cell changes and pre-cancers linked to these types, because they're more likely to grow into cancers over time. Common high-risk HPV types include HPV 16 and 18.

    3.    True. Cervical cancer is preventable with vaccines and regular screening tests. More than half of the women in the U.S. who get cervical cancer have never had or rarely had a Pap test. Cervical cancer can be found early and even prevented with routine screening tests. The Pap test looks for changes in cervical cells caused by HPV infection, while the HPV test find HPV infections that can lead to cell changes and cancer. Although HPV can be spread during sexual contact – including vaginal, anal, and oral sex – sex isn't the only way for the infection to spread. All that's needed is skin-to-skin contact with an area of the body infected with HPV. 

    4.   False. Any man or woman who has ever had any sexual contact with another person can get HPV, even if they only had one partner, however infections are more likely in people who have had many sex partners. Because males can get HPV, vaccines are also given to pre-teen boys and girls to protect them from HPV infections. These vaccines are recommended at ages 11 or 12, but can start as early as age 9.

    5.  True. Cervical cancer is most frequently diagnosed between the ages of 34 and 44, with only 15% of cases found in women over 65.

    6.  False. Even women who have received the HPV vaccine are not covered against all the types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer. There are about a dozen high-risk types of HPV that cause cervical cancer. The vaccine protects against the seven that are responsible for most HPV-caused cancers. That's why all women, even those who are vaccinated, need to follow guidelines for screening. 

    7.  True. And women who don't have health insurance or adequate coverage also have a greater risk of developing and dying from cervical cancer. That's because high-quality cancer screening is not as easily available to everyone equally. Neither is high-quality follow-up care after abnormal results from screening. 

    8.  True. HPV infections are very common. Most HPV infections are cleared by the body without causing problems, but some infections do not clear and can lead to cell changes that might cause cancer.  Chronic, or long-lasting infection, especially when it's caused by certain high-risk HPV types, can cause cancer over time. You cannot get HPV from toilet seats, hugging or holding hands, swimming pools or hot tubs, sharing food or utensils, or being unclean. At higher risk for HPV-related health problems are gay and bisexual men and people with weak immune systems (including those who have HIV/AIDS).

    9.  True. There's no treatment for the virus itself, but there are treatments for the cell changes that HPV can cause. 

    10. True. And, for women ages 30 to 65, the preferred way to screen is with a Pap test combined with an HPV test every 5 years. This is the preferred approach, but it is also OK to have a Pap test alone every 3 years. Women over age 65 who have had regular screenings with normal results should not be screened for cervical cancer. Women who have been diagnosed with cervical cancer or pre-cancer should continue to be screened according to the recommendations of their doctor. Women who have had their uterus and cervix removed in a hysterectomy and have no history of cervical cancer or pre-cancer should not be screened.

    Learn more at

  • Cancer Statistics 2019 reports a 25-year continuous decline in cancer death rate

    Racial gap narrowing while socioeconomic inequalities widen

    A steady, 25-year decline has resulted in a 27% drop in the overall cancer death rate in the U.S., translating to approximately 2.6 million fewer cancer deaths between 1991 and 2016. The data come from Cancer Statistics, 2019, the American Cancer Society’s widely-quoted annual report on cancer rates and trends. The article appears early online in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, and is accompanied by a consumer version, Cancer Facts & Figures 2019.

    The report estimates* that in 2019, 1,762,450 new cancer cases and 606,880 cancer deaths will occur in the U.S. Since its peak of 215.1 deaths (per 100,000 population) in 1991, the cancer death rate has dropped steadily by approximately 1.5% per year to 156.0 in 2016, an overall decline of 27%. This translates to an estimated 2,629,200 fewer cancer deaths than would have occurred if mortality rates had remained at their peak. Cancer is the only leading cause of death with continuous sustained declines over the past 25 years.

    The decline in cancer mortality over the past two decades is primarily the result of steady reductions in smoking and advances in early detection and treatment, which are reflected in the declines for the four major cancers: lung, breast, prostate, and colorectal.

    The death rate for lung cancer dropped by 48% from 1990 to 2016 among men and by 23% from 2002 to 2016 among women, with declines accelerating among both men and women in recent years. The death rate for female breast cancer dropped by 40% from 1989 to 2016. For prostate cancer, mortality dropped 51% from 1993 to 2016. Colorectal cancer mortality dropped by 53% from 1970 to 2016.

    In contrast to declines for the most common cancers, death rates rose from 2012 through 2016 for liver (1.2% per year in men; 2.6% per year in women), pancreatic (men only, by 0.3% per year), and uterine corpus (endometrial) cancers (2.1% per year), as well as for cancers of the brain and other nervous system, soft tissue (including heart), and sites within the oral cavity and pharynx associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV).

    The cancer incidence rate was stable in women and declined by approximately 2% per year in men over the past decade of available data (2006-2015). In men, the drop reflects accelerated declines during the past 5 years of approximately 3% per year for lung and colorectal cancers, as well as a drop of 7% per year for prostate cancer, which is attributed to decreased PSA testing. For women, declines in incidence have continued for lung cancer, but have tapered in recent years for colorectal cancer, while rates for other common cancers are increasing or stable, e.g., an increase of 0.4% per year for breast cancer.

    Although the racial gap in cancer mortality is slowly narrowing, socioeconomic inequalities are widening, with residents of the poorest counties experiencing an increasingly disproportionate burden of the most preventable cancers. For example, cervical cancer mortality among women in poor counties in the U.S. is twice that of women in affluent counties, while lung and liver cancer mortality is more than 40% higher in men living in poor counties compared to those in affluent ones. Meanwhile, socioeconomic inequalities in cancer mortality are small or non-existent for cancers that are less amenable to prevention and/or treatment, like pancreatic and ovarian cancers.

    Prior to the 1980s, socioeconomic deprivation was associated with lower cancer mortality. The most striking socioeconomic shift occurred for colorectal cancer mortality; rates in men in the poorest counties were approximately 20% lower than those in affluent counties in the early 1970s, but are now 35% higher. This reversal reflects changes in dietary and smoking patterns that influence CRC risk, as well as the slower dissemination of screening and treatment advances among disadvantaged populations. Obesity and smoking prevalence are two times higher in the poorest counties than in the most affluent.

    “These [poor] counties are low-hanging fruit for locally focused cancer control efforts, including increased access to basic health care and interventions for smoking cessation, healthy living, and cancer screening programs,” write the authors. “A broader application of existing cancer control knowledge with an emphasis on disadvantaged groups would undoubtedly accelerate progress against cancer.”

    Other statistics from the report:

    • In 2016, 22% of all deaths were from cancer, making it the second leading cause of death after heart disease in both men and women.
    • Cancer is the leading cause of death in many states, as well as in Hispanic and Asian Americans and people under 80.
    • Incidence has increased for melanoma and cancers of the liver, thyroid, uterine corpus, and pancreas.
    • Survival rates have improved for most cancer types, but advances have been slow for lung and pancreatic cancers, partly because greater than one-half of cases are diagnosed at a distant stage.
    • Despite progress in reducing smoking, 1 in 4 cancer deaths is still due to lung cancer, which resulted in more deaths in 2016 than breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers combined.
    • Cervical cancer, which is almost completely preventable, killed almost 10 women a week who were in their 20s and 30s in 2016, highlighting the need for increased emphasis on screening among young women.

    This year's special section in Cancer Facts & Figures focuses on the “oldest old" 

    Adults ages 85 and older represent the fastest-growing population group in the U.S. The group’s numbers are expected to nearly triple from 6.4 million in 2016 to 19 million by 2060. Cancer risk increases with age, and the rapidly growing older population will increase demand for cancer care. People ages 85 and older represent 8% of all new cancer diagnoses, translating to about 140,690 cases in 2019.

    *Estimates should not be compared year-to year. They are based on computer models of cancer trends and population and may vary considerably. Cancer trends should be based on age-adjusted cancer incidence and death rates (expressed as the number of cancer deaths per 100,000 people).

  • Year in review: cancer research insights from 2018

    From finding new genes associated with an increased risk for triple negative breast cancer to checking for cancer in a small sample of blood, 2018 was a year of countless new insights and advances.

    Click through the pictures on to to learn about 10 research highlights, including many that were funded by the American Cancer Society.

    Included in this round-up is the American Cancer Society National Cancer Control Blueprint. The Blueprint's goal is to provide evidence about what we've done, and still do, to decrease deaths from cancer. It also prompts cancer organizations and experts to work harder together to save more lives.

  • Proportion of cancers associated with excess body weight varies considerably by state

    Cancers related to body weight twice as predominant in women than in men

    The proportion of cancers attributable to excess body weight varies among states, but accounts for at least 1 in 17 of all incident cancers in each state, according to a new American Cancer Society study published Dec. 27 in JAMA Oncology.

    This nationwide cross-sectional study of U.S. adults found that the proportion of cancers attributable to excess body weight ranges from 3.9% to 6.0% among men, and from 7.1% to 11.4% among women, with the highest proportions found in several southern and midwestern states, Alaska, and the District of Columbia.

    Excess body weight is an established cause of cancer, currently known to be linked to 13 cancers. While differences in excess body weight among states in the United States are well-known, there is little information on the burden of obesity-related cancers by state, information that would be useful for setting priorities for cancer control initiatives.

    To learn more, American Cancer Society investigators led by Farhad Islami (pictured here), MD., PhD., scientific director, Surveillance Research, calculated the population attributable fraction (PAF) of incident cancer cases attributable to excess body weight among adults aged ≥30 years in 2011-2015 in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

    They found that in both men and women, there was at least a 1.5-fold difference between states with the highest and lowest proportions of cancers attributable to excess body weight. Among men, the population attributable fraction (PAF) ranged from 3.9% in Montana to 6.0% in Texas. The PAF for women was approximately twice as high as for men, ranging from 7.1% in Hawaii to 11.4% in the District of Columbia. 

    The proportion was far greater for some individual cancer types. For endometrial cancer, for example, the PAF was 50.0% or more in 19 states, and ranged from 36.5% in Hawaii to 54.9% in Mississippi.

    "Broad implementation of known community- and individual-level interventions is needed to reduce access to and marketing of unhealthy foods (eg, through a tax on sugary drinks) and to promote and increase access to healthy foods and physical activity, as well as preventive care," the authors wrote.

  • In praise of hope

    Three cancer patients, three reasons to be hopeful

    Hope is a welcome sentiment any time, but especially as the year winds down and a new one awaits us.

    In his blog, Len Lichtenfeld, MD, our interim chief medical officer, explains why he has reason to be hopeful.

    "There is so much more hope than we had in the past. Let us never forget that hope is all around us," he writes.

    Read his blog here.

  • Research colleagues win awards

    Congratulations to Leticia Nogueira and Rebecca Siegel

    Two of our Research Department colleagues were recently honored with awards in their fields.

    Leticia Nogueira, PHD, MPH, principal scientist, health services research, recently received an Emerging Alumni Award as part of the Hall of Honors at the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas – Austin. The Hall of Honor celebrates friends and alumni who have shown support for the college and who have brought distinction to themselves. The Emerging Alumni Award honors alumni who, in deed or action, reflect and recognize the importance of his or her education at UT, demonstrate pride, and whose interest and loyalty to the university and the college are evident. Specific criteria include contributions to their profession and recognitions from contemporaries, integrity, and demonstrated ability and stature that the faculty, staff, students, and fellow alumni of the college will take pride in.

    At the Society, Leticia is responsible for investigating determinants of health disparities in the cancer care continuum that can be addressed by policy changes. Prior to joining ACS, she served as the director of the Environmental and Injury Epidemiology and Toxicology Unit (EIET), and as the epidemiology manager at Texas Cancer Registry, both at the Texas Department of State Health Services.

    Rebecca Siegel, MPH, scientific director, surveillance research, recently received the inaugural National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) Award for Distinguished Research. Co-founded by the American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a collaboration of more than 100 public, private, and voluntary organizations committed to fighting colorectal cancer, the NCCRT includes many nationally known experts, thought leaders, and decision makers on colorectal cancer screening policy and delivery. The Distinguished Research award was conceived to recognize leaders in colorectal cancer research who have made outstanding contributions in support of our mission of saving lives from colorectal cancer. 

    In a letter to Rebecca, NCCRT co-chairs Richard Wender, MD and Robert Smith, PhD, wrote, "Your leadership in producing Cancer Statistics and the Colorectal Cancer Facts and Figures publications, alongside your more recent contributions to understand early-onset colorectal cancer, are of invaluable importance to both national and international efforts to substantially reduce colorectal cancer as a major public health problem." 

    Congratulations to these outstanding ACS employees!

    PHOTOS: Pictured above is Leticia Nogueira, PhD, MPH, with Paul Goldbart, PhD, dean of the College of Natural Sciences, University of Texas-Austin. Pictured in the smaller image is Rebecca Siegel, MPH. 

  • Excess body weight responsible for nearly 4% of cancers worldwide

    Prevalence has increased rapidly in most countries across all population groups

    Policies, economic systems, and marketing practices that promote the consumption of energy-dense, nutrient-poor food, changing behavioral patterns that couple high total energy intake with insufficient physical activity, and human-built environments that amplify these factors are driving a worldwide rise in excess body weight, according to a new report. The report, appearing early online in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, says excess body weight accounted for approximately 3.9% of all cancers worldwide in 2012, a figure that will undoubtedly rise in the coming decades given current trends.

    The review, co-authored by investigators at the American Cancer Society, Imperial College London, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, presents global and regional patterns in excess body weight, as well as factors driving the epidemic, a summary of the evidence linking excess body weight to cancer risk, and policy actions that could help address the issue. American Cancer Society scientist Hyuna Sung, PhD., is lead author of the report. 

    A consumer version of this article appears as the Special Section in the newly published Global Cancer Facts & Figures, 4th Edition. Those global cancer statistics were published in CA in September, and reported on Society Source.

    The prevalence of excess body weight has been increasing worldwide since the 1970s. In 2016, approximately 40% of adults and 18% of children (ages 5-19 years) had excess body weight, equating to almost 2 billion adults and 340 million children around the globe. The report says the prevalence of excess body weight has increased rapidly in most countries across all population groups. Some of the steepest increases are in low- and middle-income countries, likely the result of the spread of the "Western lifestyle," consisting of energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods alongside reduced physical activity levels.

    In 2015, an estimated 4 million deaths were attributable to excess body weight. The worldwide economic impact of illness related to excess body weight is estimated at $2.0 trillion. In 2012, excess body weight accounted for approximately 544,300 cancers, 3.9% of all cancers worldwide, with the proportion varying from less than 1% in low-income countries to 7% or 8% in some high-income Western countries and in Middle Eastern and Northern African countries.

    Overweight and obesity has been linked to an increased risk of 13 cancers: cancers of the breast (postmenopausal), colon and rectum (colorectal), corpus uteri, esophagus (adenocarcinoma), gallbladder, kidney, liver, ovary, pancreas, stomach (cardia), and thyroid, as well as meningioma and multiple myeloma. More recently, overweight has been labeled a probable cause of advanced prostate cancer as well as cancers of the mouth, pharynx, and larynx.

    National wealth is the most apparent systematic driver of population obesity. The economic transition to a wealthier economy brings with it an environment that precipitates obesity. Each $10,000 increase in average national income is associated with a 0.4 increase in body mass index among adults. However, prosperity is not always correlated with excess body weight; obesity prevalence is quite low in high-income Asian Pacific countries (range, 4%-7%), which is likely a result of adherence to traditional dietary habits conducive to lower calorie consumption, and an active transportation system that usually entails walking as part of daily activity. Meanwhile, the prevalence of obesity is very high in some lower-income countries, such as some Pacific Island nations (range, 40%-65%) and Egypt (43% among women and 24% among men).

    Halting the rise in obesity is one of the World Health Organization (WHO)'s nine 2025 targets to address the growing global burden of noncommunicable diseases, including cancer. While the current pace of increasing and existing challenges makes achieving this goal appears unlikely, the WHO says high-priority strategies that should be adopted by governments, industries, and civil societies include population-wide, policy-led interventions to rectify the production, distribution, and marketing of unhealthy foods and changes in the built environment to promote adequate levels of physical activity.

    Those interventions include:

    • Eliminating trans-fats through the development of legislation to ban their use in the food chain
    • Reducing sugar consumption through effective taxation on sugar-sweetened beverages
    • Implementing subsidies to increase the intake of fruits and vegetables
    • Limiting portion and package size to reduce energy intake and the risk of excess body weight
    • Ensuring that urban design incorporates the core elements of residential density, connected street networks that include sidewalks, easy access to a diversity of destinations, and access to public transport
    • Providing convenient and safe access to quality public open space and adequate  infrastructure to support walking and cycling.

    Article: Global Patterns in Excess Body Weight and the Associated Cancer Burden. CA Cancer J Clin 2018 DOI: 10.3322/caac.21499

  • Life expectancy declines again as drug and suicide deaths escalate

    Deaths from cancer continued their long, steady, downward trend.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's annual mortality report released today shows that life expectancy in the U.S. declined again in 2017.

    Overall, Americans could expect to live 78.6 years at birth in 2017, down a tenth of a year from the 2016 estimate, according to the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. Men could anticipate a life span of 76.1 years, down a tenth of a year from 2016. Life expectancy for women in 2017 was 81.1 years, unchanged from the previous year.

    These annual statistics are considered a reliable barometer of a society's health. In most developed nations, life expectancy has marched steadily upward for decades.

    Robert Redfield, MD, CDC director, called the trend tragic and troubling. "Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the Nation's overall health and these sobering statistics are a wakeup call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable," he wrote in a statement.

    The 10 leading causes of death in 2017 remained the same as in 2016, but only deaths from cancer declined

    There is good news involving cancer. Of the 10 leading causes of death in the U.S., only cancer declined. In 2017, the 10 leading causes of death were: heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, Alzheimer disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease, and suicide - the same as in 2016 – and accounted for 74.0% of all deaths in the United States in 2017. From 2016 to 2017, age-adjusted death rates increased for 7 of 10 leading causes of death and decreased for just one, cancer.

    The rate increased 4.2% for unintentional injuries, 0.7% for chronic lower respiratory diseases, 0.8% for stroke, 2.3% for Alzheimer disease, 2.4% for diabetes, 5.9% for influenza and pneumonia, and 3.7% for suicide. The rate decreased 2.1% for cancer. Rates for heart disease and kidney disease did not change significantly.

    "This continues a trend that began in the early 1990s," said Rebecca Siegel, MPH, scientific director, Surveillance Research. "Cancer was the only of the 10 leading causes of death for which there was a statistically significant decline in 2017 (2.1%). The continued decline in cancer mortality is driven by the drop in smoking, as well as improvements in treatment and early detection for some cancers," she explained.

    Drug overdoses set another annual record in 2017, cresting at 70,237 — up from 63,632 the year before, the government said in a companion report. The opioid epidemic continued to take a relentless toll, with 47,600 deaths in 2017 from drugs sold on the street such as fentanyl and heroin, as well as prescription narcotics. That was also a record number, driven largely by an increase in fentanyl deaths.

    Here are findings documented in the overdose report:

    • The age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths in 2017 (21.7 per 100,000) was 9.6% higher than the rate in 2016 (19.8). This percent increase was lower than that seen between 2015 and 2016 when the rate increased by 21% (from 16.3 to 19.8).
    • Adults aged 25-34, 35-44, and 45–54 had the highest rates of drug overdose deaths in 2017.
    • The age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (drugs such as fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, and tramadol) increased by 45% between 2016 and 2017, from 6.2 to 9.0 deaths per 100,000. This percent increase was lower than that seen between 2015 and 2016 when the rate doubled in a single year (from 3.1 to 6.2).
    • The age-adjusted death rate from heroin overdose did not change between 2016 and 2017 – 4.9 deaths per 100,000. But the 2017 rate was seven times higher than the rate in 1999.
    • West Virginia (57.8 per 100,000), Ohio (46.3), Pennsylvania (44.3), and the District of Columbia (44.0) had the highest observed age-adjusted drug overdose death rates in 2017.

    A third report reveals that the suicide rate in the U.S. has increased from 10.4 suicides per 100,000 in 1999 to 14.0 in 2017. Suicide rates have increased since 1999 for both males and females ages 10-74. Rates in the most rural U.S. counties are nearly two times higher than rates in the most urban counties.

    The three reports are available on the NCHS web site at

    TOP PHOTO: This illustrates age-adjusted drug overdose death rates by state for 2017.

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