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Highlights from the just-released Cancer Facts & Figures 2018

On Jan. 4, the Society published Cancer Facts & Figures 2018. This widely cited annual report provides the most current information about cancer, including the estimated numbers of new cancer cases and deaths in each state in 2018, and information on cancer symptoms, risk factors, early detection, and treatment. The focus of this year's Special Section is ovarian cancer.

For incidence and mortality statistics, read this story about Cancer Statistics 2018, which was released simultaneously.

The most requested tables and figures from Cancer Facts & Figures 2018 have been assembled in an electronic format (PDF) to make it easy for people to use them. Also, our Cancer Statistics Center has been updated with the latest numbers.

Below are 15 interesting takeaways from Cancer Facts & Figures 2018, which can be found at

  • Today, cancer accounts for about 1 in every 7 deaths worldwide – more than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined. 
  • Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the U.S., exceeded only by heart disease.
  • More than 15.5 million Americans with a history of cancer were alive on January 1, 2016.
  • Cancer usually develops in older people; 87% of all cancers in the U.S. are diagnosed in people 50 years of age or older.
  • In 2012, there were an estimated 14.1 million cases of cancer diagnosed around the world and 8.2 million cancer deaths. More than 60% of cancer deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), many of which lack the medical resources and health systems to support the disease burden. By 2030, the global burden is expected to reach 21.6 million new cancer cases and 13.0 million cancer deaths solely due to the growth and aging of the population. These projections may increase given the adoption of unhealthy behaviors and lifestyles associated with rapid income growth (e.g., smoking, poor diet, and physical inactivity) and changes in reproductive patterns (e.g., fewer children, later age at first childbirth) in LMICs.
  • Tobacco use remains the world's most preventable cause of death. 
  • Despite decades of declines in cigarette smoking prevalence, almost one-third (32%) of cancer deaths in the U.S., and as much as 40% in men in some Southern states, are still caused by smoking. This is partly because cigarette smoking rates in certain segments of the population remain as high as 40%, comparable to the rate in the general population in the 1970s.
  • Smokers who quit, regardless of age, increase their longevity; those who quit by age 30 live an average of 10 years longer than if they had continued to smoke. In 2016, 59% (54.5 million) of the 92.9 million Americans who ever smoked at least 100 cigarettes are now former smokers
  • Studies estimate that adults who most closely follow our healthy lifestyle recommendations are 10%-20% less likely to be diagnosed with cancer and 20%-30% less likely to die from the disease
  • Obesity prevalence among adults 20-74 years of age escalated from 15% during 1976-1980 to 40% during 2015-2016. Obesity prevalence was slightly higher in women (41%) than in men (38%). Among men, obesity prevalence was higher among Hispanics (43%) than among non-Hispanic whites (38%) and non-Hispanic blacks (37%). Among women, obesity prevalence was higher among Hispanics (51%) and non-Hispanic blacks (55%) than non-Hispanic whites (38%)
  • During 2015-2016, obesity prevalence was 14% in children ages 2-5; 18% in ages 6-11; and 21% in ages 12-19. Obesity prevalence in children ages 2-19 was highest in Hispanic boys (28%) and non-Hispanic black girls (25%) and lowest in non-Hispanic white boys (15%) and girls (14%)
  • High levels of moderate-intensity activity (60-75 minutes per day) appear to offset the increased risk of death associated with prolonged sitting. Even low amounts of physical activity appear to reduce cancer mortality compared to no activity at all
  • Despite the wide variety of health benefits from being active, current national data indicate, 27% of adults reported no leisure-time activity (29% in females; 25% in males) in 2016, with blacks (37%) and Hispanics (36%) reporting higher inactivity than whites (23%). 53% of adults reported meeting recommended levels of aerobic activity in 2016, up from 40% in 1998
  • Only 27% of high school students (36% and 18% in boys and girls, respectively) met recommendations in 2015 by engaging in at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day in the previous seven days
  • A review of the evidence found that people who have the healthiest diet have an 11%-24% lower risk of cancer death than those with the least healthy diet. Most Americans do not consume a healthy diet. Current national data show that 29% of adults reported eating two or more servings of fruits per day and 16% consumed vegetables three or more times per day in 2015. 32% of high school students reported consuming 100% fruit juice or fruit two or more times per day in 2015 and only 15% reported consuming vegetables three or more times per day.
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