Overall cancer death rates decline while incidence rates remain stable.
Overall cancer death rates continued to decline among men, women, children, and adolescents and young adults in every major racial and ethnic group in the United States from 2015 to 2019, according to the latest Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer.
From 2014 to 2018, overall cancer incidence, or new cases of cancer, remained stable for men and children but increased for women and adolescents and young adults. This year’s report, published Oct. 27, 2022, in Cancer, also highlights longer-term trends in pancreatic cancer, as well as racial and ethnic disparities in incidence and death rates for many individual cancer sites. All of the findings in this report are based on data from before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report shows that from 2015 to 2019, overall cancer death rates decreased by 2.1% per year in men and women combined. Among men, death rates decreased by 2.3% per year; among women, death rates decreased by 1.9% per year. The annual declines in death rate accelerated from 2001 to 2019 in both men and women.
The declines in death rates were steepest in lung cancer and melanoma (by 4% to 5% per year) among both men and women. Death rates increased for cancers of the pancreas, brain, and bones and joints among men, and for cancers of the pancreas and uterus among women.
“Through funding scientific breakthroughs and raising awareness about prevention and early detection, we are making progress against a subset of the more than 200 diseases we call cancer,” said ACS Chief Executive Officer Dr. Karen Knudsen. “However, for certain cancer types, concerning trends persist, and durable cures remain elusive for many people. We are committed to improving the lives of all cancer patients and their families, through accelerating research, increasing access to care through advocacy, and by providing direct patient support in communities across the nation, toward the shared goal of eliminating cancer as we know it.”
The report showed that cancer incidence rates were relatively stable in men and women combined from 2014 to 2018. Among men, incidence rates remained stable during this period, but among women incidence rates rose by 0.2% per year.
Over the same time period, incidence rates increased for three of the 18 most common cancers among men: pancreas, kidney, and testis. Incidence rates in men remained stable for seven of the most common cancers and decreased for the remaining eight cancers. For women, incidence rates increased for seven of the 18 most common cancers: liver, melanoma, kidney, myeloma, pancreas, breast, and oral cavity and pharynx. Incidence rates among women remained stable for four of the most common cancers and decreased for the other seven cancers.
In men, the greatest incidence rate increase was seen in pancreatic cancer, which increased by 1.1% per year, and the steepest incidence rate decrease was seen in lung cancer, which fell by 2.6% per year. In women, melanoma had the steepest increase in incidence, rising by 1.8% per year, and thyroid cancer had the sharpest decrease, falling by 2.9% per year.
The Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer is a collaborative effort among the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); the American Cancer Society (ACS); and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR). Dr. Ahmedin Jemal, ACS SVP, surveillance and health equity science, is senior author of the research.
The report is based on a combined cancer incidence data set from NAACCR composed of data collected by CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR) and NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program, as well as mortality data from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.
This year’s report includes a special focus on trends in pancreatic cancer incidence, death, and survival rates. Although pancreatic cancer accounts for only 3% of new cancer diagnoses, it accounts for 8% of cancer deaths and is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States for both men and women.
From 2001 to 2018, incidence rates of pancreatic cancer increased by 1% per year among both men and women, and from 2001 to 2019, death rates increased by 0.2% per year for both sexes. From 2001 to 2018, incidence rates of two common subtypes of pancreatic cancer, neuroendocrine tumors and adenocarcinomas, increased in both men and women, while unspecified subtypes and other pancreatic tumors decreased.
For more about the report, see: https://seer.cancer.gov/report_to_nation/.