Steady reductions in smoking combined with advances in cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment have resulted in a 23% drop in the cancer death rate since its peak in 1991. The drop translates to more than 1.7 million cancer deaths averted through 2012. The new findings are included in Cancer Statistics, 2016, the latest annual report on cancer incidence, mortality, and survival from the American Cancer Society (ACS). The report was published online in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
Every year, the ACS estimates new cancer cases and deaths in the U.S. for the current year and compiles the most recent data on cancer incidence, mortality, and survival. The new report estimates that there will be 1,685,210 new cancer cases and 595,690 cancer deaths in the U.S. in 2016.
The society reports that the overall cancer incidence was stable in women and declined by 3.1% per year in men from 2009 to 2012, with one-half of the drop in men due to recent rapid declines in prostate cancer diagnoses as prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing decreased.
Cancer mortality continues to drop; over the past decade of data, the rate declined by 1.8% per year in men and by 1.4% per year in women. The drop in cancer death rates during the past two decades was driven by continued decreases in death rates for the four major cancer sites: lung, breast, prostate, and colon/rectum.
Death rates for female breast cancer have declined 36% from peak rates in 1989, whereas deaths from prostate and colorectal cancers have each dropped about 50% from their peak –– a result of improvements in early detection and treatment, according to the ACS. Lung cancer death rates declined 38% between 1990 and 2012 among males and 13% between 2002 and 2012 among females because of reduced tobacco use.
The new report also features an analysis of leading causes of death by state and finds that, even as cancer remains the second leading cause of death nationwide, steep drops in deaths from heart disease have made cancer the leading cause of death in 21 states: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. In addition, cancer is the leading cause of death among adults 40 to 79 years of age and among both Hispanics and Asian/Pacific Islanders, who together make up one-quarter of the U.S. population. Heart disease remains the top cause of death overall in the U.S. In 2012, there were 599,711 (24%) deaths from heart disease compared with 582,623 (23%) deaths from cancer.
Other findings from the report include the following:
Source: American Cancer Society; January 7, 2015.