ATLANTA, GA – January 17, 2024 – According to a report released on January 17th by the American Cancer Society, more Americans will get cancer than ever before; however, the mortality rate has continued its downward trend over the past 30 years. The death rate has dropped by one third. However, the incidence is increasing in 6 of the 10 most common cancers: uterine, pancreas, kidney, melanoma, prostate, and breast. The number of Americans diagnosed with cancer is predicted to exceed 2 million people in 2024.
The American Cancer Society publishes their cancer statistics report annually. This year’s report was obtained using incidence data from cancer registries (through 2020) and mortality data (through 2021). The data is extrapolated to predict future trends.
The 5-year survival rate, indicative of how likely someone can survive from cancer, has improved from 49% in the mid-1970’s to 69% between 2013 to 2019. The highest cancer survival rates are thyroid, prostate, and testicular. Cancers with the largest mortality rates are pancreas, liver, and lung. Cancers that cause the most deaths are lung, colorectal, and pancreas.
Obesity-related cancers such as pancreas, kidney, liver, and post-menopausal breast are increasing. This may be related to the obesity epidemic.
There is an increasing rate of colorectal cancer in young adults, but no one knows why. Twenty years ago, colon cancer was the 4th leading cause of death in men and women. Now it’s the leading cause of death in men under 50 and the 2nd leading cause of death for women under 50. Preventive screening is recommended to reverse this trend for people 45 and older and for younger people with a family history. The best test is a colonoscopy, but there are also stool-based tests available that are more convenient and cheaper.
While cervical cancer rates have increased among 30-to-44-year-old women, they are dramatically lower in women in their 20’s who were the first age group to get the HPV vaccine. The vaccine reduces the number of HPV infections, which is related to the development of genital warts and cervical cancer.
Racial and ethnic disparities exist in the cancer death rate although they have been reduced over the past 20 years. Blacks had a death rate that was 33% higher than Whites in 1993. This is down to 13% between 2013 and 2019. Prostate cancer rates in Black men are higher than in White men. Uterine cancer and breast cancer rates in Black women are significantly higher than in White women. Mortality rates for liver, stomach, and kidney cancers are higher in Native Americans compared to White people. The report feels that these disparities can be attributed to structural racism, uneven distribution of wealth, and disparate access to cancer prevention, detection, and treatment.
Another highlight of the report is that the incidence of cancer in children has finally plateaued after many years of increase, although rates are continuing to increase in adolescents (ages 15-19).
Rebecca Siegal, senior scientific director of surveillance research at the American Cancer Society and lead author of the report, said, “We’re encouraged by the steady drop in cancer mortality as a result of less smoking, earlier detection of some cancers, and improved treatment. But as a nation, we’ve dropped the ball on cancer prevention as incidence continues to increase for many common cancers.”
The American Cancer Society is a non-profit organization headquartered in Atlanta. Its mission “is to improve the lives of people with cancer and their families through advocacy, research, and patient support, to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to prevent, detect, treat, and survive cancer.”
Listen to the full report below:
Contact: Dr. Dick Needleman, Health reporter, 103.3 AshevilleFM, firstname.lastname@example.org