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New ACS Cancer Facts & Figures report: Overall cancer mortality still declining

Projected number of new cancer diagnoses in US will top 2 million in 2024 for first time ever.

Overall cancer mortality has continued to decline, resulting in more than 4 million fewer deaths in the US since 1991. However, this progress is being jeopardized by increasing incidence for 6 of the top 10 cancers as the projected number of new diagnoses tops 2 million (2,001,140) for the first time. These are just some of the findings revealed in Cancer Statistics, 2024, the ACS’ annual report on cancer facts and trends. These findings are published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians and its consumer-friendly companion, Cancer Facts & Figures 2024, on 

“We’re encouraged by the steady drop in cancer mortality as a result of less smoking, earlier detection for some cancers, and improved treatment,” Rebecca Siegel, ACS senior scientific director, Surveillance Research and lead author of the report said in a media release Wednesday. “But as a nation, we’ve dropped the ball on cancer prevention as incidence continues to increase for many common cancers – like breast, prostate, and endometrial, as well as colorectal and cervical cancers in some young adults.”

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Team members can learn more about this year’s Cancer Facts & Figures report in many ways: 

For the report, ACS researchers compiled the most recent data on population-based cancer occurrence and outcomes using incidence data collected by central cancer registries, through 2020, and mortality data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics, through 2021. 

“The 2024 ACS cancer report underscores the importance of cancer prevention and illuminates priority areas to address cancers whose incidence and/or mortality rates are inexplicably rising,” said Dr. Karen Knudsen, ACS chief executive officer. “These observations highlight the critical need to invest in equitable application of proven cancer control interventions, and in discovery for new therapies – especially for advanced-stage cancers. Both endeavors will be essential to accelerate progress against the 200 diseases we call cancer, and to save lives.”

Rising colorectal cancer incidence has rapidly shifted mortality patterns in adults under 50 years of age; colorectal cancer has moved up from bring the fourth leading cause of cancer death in both younger men and women two decades ago to first in men and second in women. Breast cancer leads in women under 50 with 2,251 deaths in 2021.

Other highlights from the report include: 

  • Cervical cancer incidence rates are decreasing steeply in women in their 20s, who were first to receive the HPV vaccine, but are increased in women 30-44 years old by 1.7% per year from 2012 through 2019, highlighting the need for more emphasis on screening in young women, as well as broader uptake of the vaccine. In 2021, HPV vaccination coverage in adolescents 13-17 years ranged from 33% in Mississippi to 79% in the District of Columbia. 
  • After decades of increase, cancer incidence in children has finally leveled off, although rates continue to increase among adolescents (ages 15-19 years), including a greater than 4% per year rise in thyroid cancer, much of which is likely overdiagnosis; the 15-year survival rate for thyroid cancer in adolescents is 99%. 
  • Mortality rates continue to increase by 2% per year for uterine corpus (endometrial) cancer, one of the few cancers with increasing mortality. Steeper increases in women of color are widening racial disparities, with the death rate now two times higher in Black women (9.1 per 100,000) than in White women (4.6 per 100,000). 
  • Cancer patients are getting younger: the proportion of diagnoses in people who are middle-aged (50-64 years) increased from 25% in 1995 to 30% in 2019-2020, whereas the proportion 65 years and older decreased from 61% to 58%, despite both age groups growing in the general population (from 13% to 19% for ages 50-64 years and from 13% to 17% for ages 65 and older). In addition to changes in the population age distribution, this shift reflects steep decreases in incidence of prostate cancer and smoking-related cancers in older adults, as well as increased cancer incidence in people born after the 1950s because of higher obesity and other yet unknown factors.

ACS author Angela Giaquinto also participated in the study.

Quick facts about ACS Cancer Facts & Figures 

  • Since 1951, Cancer Facts & Figures has been the public’s go-to resource for timely cancer information. This annual report provides the most current information about cancer.
  • The audience for the publication extends not just nationwide, but globally, and equips health professionals, educators, policymakers, patients, and others with crucial findings.
  • Once a stand-alone publication, Cancer Facts & Figures is now the flagship work in a highly regarded series of nine reports under the purview of the Surveillance and Health Equity Science team. Updating each report is about a 6-month collaboration between renowned cancer experts from ACS and other top research institutions across the country.
  • Each Cancer Facts & Figures report is published with a companion article in the ACS journal, CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
  • A unique feature of Cancer Facts & Figures is their state-specific data: the publications break down projections by state and at the national level.
  • ACS Cancer Facts & Figures publications are downloaded on average about 9,000 per month or about 300 times every single day.

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