Government and Regulations

Major Cancer Death Rates Are Down

Although the National Cancer Institute's annual report notes a decline in age-adjusted rates for all cancers, incidence rates for certain cancers are on the rise.


“Mortality trends are the gold standard for evidence of progress against cancer,” so it’s good news that cancer-related death rates are continuing to decline, according to the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI’s) Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2011. Between 2002 and 2011, age-adjusted rates for all cancers combined declined 0.5% for both men and women. Among men, rates have dropped by about 1.8% per year; among women, 1.4%; and among children, roughly 2%.

Related: How Much Is Too Much Cancer Screening?

Death rates during this same 10-year period among men declined for 10 of the 17 most common cancers and among women for 13 of the top cancers. The largest declines in incidence for men were in cancers of the colon and rectum, lung and bronchus, and prostate. Women saw the biggest declines in cancers of the colon, rectum, and cervical spine.

Related: Nivolumab Approved for Expanded Indication

The rate of new cases of lung cancer also continued a downward trend, in sync with the smoking rate. But oral/oropharyngeal cancers have increased among white men, perhaps associated with higher incidence of human papilloma virus, the researchers suggest.

Despite the dropping mortality rates, all is not bright. Thyroid and kidney cancer incidence rates are on the rise in both men and women, although no increase in mortality has been noted. Liver cancer cases and death rates are also increasing; this may reflect, in part, higher rates of hepatitis C and/or behavioral risk factors, such as alcohol abuse, the NCI report says.

Related: Timely Assessment of Cancer Symptoms

The incidence and mortality rates are increasing as well for uterine cancer among whites, blacks, and Asian Pacific Islander women, with the largest increase seen in black women. The cause of the increases is unknown, the report says.

Next Article:

Systems Automation for Cancer Surveillance

Related Articles