Understanding Cancer Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer:

Cancer Death Rates Continue to Decline

annual report to the nationThe Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer finds that cancer death rates continued to decline from 2001 to 2017 in the United States for all cancer sites combined. These decreases were seen in all major racial and ethnic groups and among men, women, adolescents, young adults, and children. Rates of new cancers for all cancers combined leveled off among men and increased slightly for women during 2012 to 2016.

This year’s report showed that overall cancer death rates decreased 1.5 percent on average per year from 2001 to 2017, decreasing more rapidly among men (by 1.8 percent per year) than among women (1.4 percent per year). The report found that overall cancer death rates decreased in every racial and ethnic group during 2013 to 2017.

“The United States continues to make significant progress in cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment,” says U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert R. Redfield, MD. “While we are encouraged that overall cancer death rates have decreased, there is still much more we can do to prevent new cancers and support communities, families, and cancer survivors in this ongoing battle.”
“While we are encouraged that overall cancer death rates have decreased, there is still much more we can do to prevent new cancers and support communities, families, and cancer survivors in this ongoing battle.”National Status of Cancer Report Findings
The data analyzed in the report combines cancer incidence data collected by the CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR) and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program, as well as mortality data from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The report found that from 2013 to 2017:

  • Among men, death rates decreased for 11 of the 19 most common cancers, were stable for four cancers (including prostate), and increased for four cancers (oral cavity and pharynx; soft tissue, including heart; brain and other nervous system; and pancreas).
  • Among women, death rates decreased for 14 of the 20 most common cancers, including the three most common cancers (lung and bronchus, breast, and colorectal), but increased for cancers of the uterus, liver, brain and other nervous system, soft tissue (including heart), and pancreas.
  • Overall cancer death rates among children ages 0 to 14 years decreased an average of 1.4 percent per year. Among adolescents and young adults ages 15 to 39 years, overall cancer death rates decreased an average of 1.0 percent per year.
  • Melanoma death rates decreased 6.1 percent per year among men and 6.3percent per year among women.
  • Lung cancer death rates decreased 4.8 percent per year among men and 3.7 percent per year among women. However, lung cancer continues to be the leading cause of cancer death, accounting for about one-fourth of all cancer deaths.
For cancer incidence, notable findings include that from 2012 to 2016, incidence rates for all cancers combined were stable in men and increased slightly in women. In addition, rates of new cancers were stable among white men and decreased among black, Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Hispanic men.
From 2013 to 2017, overall cancer death rates declined for women, men, children, adolescents, and young adults.For the first time, the report provided rates and trends for the most common cancers among children (younger than 15 years) and among adolescents and young adults ages 15 to 39 years. Among children, overall cancer incidence rates increased an average of 0.8 percent per year during 2012 to 2016. The most common cancer types among children were leukemia, brain and other nervous system cancers, and lymphoma, with increasing incidence trends for each of these cancers during 2012 to 2016.

Among adolescents and young adults, overall cancer incidence rates increased an average of 0.9 percent per year from 2012 to 2016. The most common cancer among adolescents and young adults was female breast cancer; rates were highest among young black women.

Progress Toward Cancer-Reduction Targets
In a companion paper to the report, researchers measured progress toward the federal government’s 10-year national objectives for improving Americans’ health, an effort known as “Healthy People 2020.” Specifically, researchers examined progress in four common cancers: lung, prostate, female breast, and colorectal.

Healthy People 2020 targets for reducing death rates were met for all cancers combined, as well as for lung, prostate, female breast, and colorectal cancers overall – although not in all individual sociodemographic groups. Despite some progress over the past decade, the report shows the need to address disparities in cancer screening and in certain risk behaviors.

The annual report is a collaborative effort among the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the National Cancer Institute; the American Cancer Society; and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries. The report is published in the journal Cancer.

For more about the report, visit seer.cancer.gov/report_to_nation.

Source: National Cancer Institute,
cancer.gov