Overall cancer mortality rate continues to decline in US

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BETHESDA, Md. — The latest Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer found that, for all cancer sites combined, cancer death rates continued to decline in men, women and children in the United States from 1999 to 2016.

Overall cancer incidence rates, or rates of new cancers, decreased in men from 2008 to 2015, after increasing from 1999 to 2008 and were stable in women from 1999 to 2015.

Notable findings

Cancer mortality 2012-2016

Overall death rates decreased 1.8% per year in men and 1.4% per year in women.

Among men, death rates decreased for 10 of the 19 most common cancers but increased for six cancers.

Among women, death rates decreased for 13 of the 20 most common cancers, but increased for five cancer types.

Cancer incidence 2011-2015

Incidence rates for all cancers combined were stable in women and decreased 2.1% per year in men.

Among men, rates of new cancers decreased for eight of the 17 most common cancers, increased for seven cancers, and were stable for two cancers.

Among women, rates of new cancers decreased for six of the 18 most common cancers, increased for nine cancers, and were stable for three cancers.

Age group differences

In a special section of the report, researchers looked at cancer rates and trends in adults ages 20 to 49.

The special section shows a different picture for cancer incidence and mortality among men and women ages 20 to 49 than among people of all ages.

In the main report, from 2011 to 2015, the average annual incidence rate for all cancer sites combined was about 1.2 times higher among men than among women.

From 2012 to 2016, the average annual death rate among men (all ages) was 1.4 times the rate among women.

However, when the researchers looked only at men and women ages 20 to 49, they found that both incidence and death rates were higher among women.

In the 20-49 age group from 2011 to 2015, the average annual incidence rate for all invasive cancers was 115.3 (per 100,000 people) among men, compared with 203.3 among women, with cancer incidence rates decreasing an average of 0.7% per year among men and increasing an average of 1.3% per year among women.

During the period from 2012 to 2016, the average annual cancer death rate was 22.8 (per 100,000 people) among men and 27.1 among women in this age group.

From 2012 to 2016, death rates decreased 2.3% per year among men and 1.7% per year among women of all ages.

Common cancers

The most common cancers and their incidence rates among women ages 20 to 49 were breast (73.2 per 100,000 people), thyroid (28.4) and melanoma of the skin (14.1).

The most common cancers among men ages 20 to 49 were colon and rectum (13.1), testis (10.7) and melanoma of the skin (9.8).

Rates of new cases of cancers related to excess weight and physical inactivity — including uterine, post-menopausal breast and colorectal (only in young adults) — have been increasing in recent decades.

Death rates showed an 8.5% decline per year from 2014 to 2016 in men and a 6.3% decline per year from 2013 to 2016 in women.

Racial, ethnic disparities

The report also shows continuing racial and ethnic disparities in cancer mortality and incidence.

When data for people of all ages were combined and compared by sex, across racial and ethnic groups, black men and black women had the highest cancer death rates.

Black men and white women had the highest overall cancer incidence rates, and Asian/Pacific Islander men and women had the lowest overall rates.

The annual report appeared in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.


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