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NCI's Annual Report to Nation: Overall Cancer Death Rates Continue to Decline


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Overall cancer death rates continue to decline in men and women for all racial and ethnic groups in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute's latest Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer.

Between 2001 and 2018, declines in lung cancer death rates accelerated, and death rates for melanoma declined considerably in more recent years, reflecting a substantial increase in survival for metastatic melanoma.

The annual report is a collaborative effort among the American Cancer Society; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health; and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries.

The report shows a decrease in death rates for 11 of the 19 most common cancers among men and for 14 of the 20 most common cancers among women over the most recent period (2014-2018).

Although declining trends in death rates accelerated for lung cancer and melanoma over this period, previous declining trends for colorectal and female breast cancer death rates slowed and those for prostate cancer leveled off.

And death rates increased for a few cancers, like

  •     brain and other nervous system cancers and pancreas, in both sexes
  •     oral cavity and pharynx in males
  •     and liver and uterus in females

The report, appearing in JNCI: The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, also finds that overall cancer incidence rates continue to increase among females, children, and adolescents and young adults. All trends in this report cover the period before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other key findings include:

  •     Overall cancer incidence rates were higher among men than women in every racial and ethnic group, except in the Asian/Pacific Islander population, where the rates were similar.
  •     Overall cancer incidence rates were slightly lower among African Americans than Caucasians.
  •     In contrast, overall cancer death rates were higher among African Americans than Caucasians.  
  •     Incidence rates of liver cancer were previously increasing, but data show rates have stabilized among both men and women.
  •     Two-year relative survival for advanced-stage melanoma cases diagnosed during 2001-2009 was stable, but it increased 3.1% per year for those diagnosed during 2009-2014.
  •     Two-year relative survival only slightly increased for early- and intermediate-stage melanoma cases diagnosed during 2001-2014 (0.03% and 0.4% per year, respectively).

The authors indicate these findings can help inform health care providers about the need to increase efforts related to cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment, as well as the need for equitable implementation of effective interventions, especially among under-resourced populations.

"Cancer is an extremely complex, individualized disease," said Prescott Deininger, PhD, Tulane Cancer Center Director. "All of these improvements are the result of decades of research into risk factors, early detection, and treatment."

For more about the report, see: https://seer.cancer.gov/report_to_nation/.


For more information on Tulane Cancer Center news and events, please contact:

Melanie N. Cross
Manager of Communications
Tulane Cancer Center
1430 Tulane Ave., Box 8668
New Orleans, LA 70112