Report: Cancer Death Rates Continue to Decline in U.S.

Patients with melanoma or prostate, thyroid, or breast cancer show best five-year survival

Overall cancer death rates continue to drop in men, women, and children for all major racial and ethnic groups, according to the latest Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975–2014. The report finds that death rates during 2010–2014 decreased for 11 of the 16 most-common types of cancer in men and for 13 of the 18 most-common types of cancer in women, including lung, colorectal, female breast, and prostate cancers. Meanwhile, death rates increased for cancers of the liver, pancreas, and brain in men and for cancers of the liver and the uterus in women.

The report also finds that overall cancer incidence rates, or rates of new cancers, decreased in men but stabilized in women during the period 1999–2013.

The Report to the Nation is released each year in a collaborative effort by the American Cancer Society; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the National Cancer Institute; and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries. This year’s edition was published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Compared with cases diagnosed in 1975–1977, five-year survival for cancers diagnosed in 2006–2012 increased significantly for all but two types of cancer: cervix and uterus. The greatest absolute increases in survival (25% or greater) were seen in prostate and kidney cancers as well as in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, myeloma, and leukemia.

Cancers with the lowest five-year relative survival for cases diagnosed in 2006–2012 were pancreas (8.5%), liver (18.1%), lung (18.7%), esophagus (20.5%), stomach (31.1%), and brain (35.0%).); those with the highest survival included prostate (99.3%), thyroid (98.3%), melanoma (93.2%), and female breast (90.8%).

According to the authors, more attention and resources are needed to identify major risk factors for common cancers, such as colorectal, breast, and prostate, as are concerted efforts to understand the increasing incidence trends in uterine, female breast, and pancreatic cancer.

Source: American Cancer Society; March 31, 2017.