CDC Reports a National Decrease in Lung Cancer and Melanoma Deaths Leading to an Overall Decline in Cancer Death Rate

CDC Reports a National Decrease in Lung Cancer and Melanoma Deaths Leading to an Overall Decline in Cancer Death Rate

Some cancer death rates, however, stay stagnant.

Cancer deaths are continuing to overall decline in men and women for all racial and ethnic groups in the U.S., according to the latest Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer. During 2001 and 2018, there was a massive decline in lung cancer and melanoma deaths with a substantial increase in survival for metastatic melanoma. For several other types of cancers, including: prostate, colorectal and female breast cancers, previous declining trends in death rates slowed or disappeared. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) finds that cancer incidence rates keep increasing among females, teens, young adults and children. The trend covers the period prior to the pandemic.

The press release from the CDC states that the annual report is a collaborative effort between itself, the American Cancer Society (ACS), the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR). The report shows a decrease in death rates for 11 of the 19 most common cancers among men and for 14 of the most common cancers among women from 2014-2018. However, death rates increased for a few cancers including brain, nervous and liver.

“The declines in lung cancer and melanoma death rates are the result of progress across the entire cancer continuum – from reduced smoking rates to prevent cancer to discoveries such as targeted drug therapies and immune checkpoint inhibitors,” said Karen E. Knudsen, MBA, PhD., Chief Executive Officer, American Cancer Society. “While we celebrate the progress, we must remain committed to research, patient support, and advocacy to make even greater progress to improve the lives of cancer patients and their families.”

However, when it comes to increases in death rates regarding breast cancer, it could likely be due to factors such as obesity. The authors report that cancer death rates continued to decrease among children (aged <15 years) and ages 15-39 years despite an increase in incidence rates from 2001 to 2017. Overall, these cancer incidence rates increased in all racial/ethnic groups except in American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) children where rates remained stable.

In the press release, the main findings include:

• Overall cancer incidence rates were higher among men than women in every racial and ethnic group, except Asian/Pacific Islander population, where the rates were similar.

• Overall cancer incidence rates were slightly lower among black people than white people.

• In contrast, overall cancer death rates were higher among black people than white people.

• 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 percent 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 percent and 0.4 percent per year, respectively).

The findings can help inform healthcare providers about the need to increase efforts related to cancer prevention, early detection and treatment.

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